Event organizers included the Woburn District Court’s HEAT co-founders Chief Probation Officer Vincent Piro and retired Probation Officer Michael Higgins, with help from Woburn Police Chief Robert Ferullo. The conference was sponsored by HEAT, local Middlesex County Police Departments, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS), the Department of Public Health, and AdCare Educational Institute.
The half-day event featured intensive training on the use of Narcan, and covered the latest treatment resources for opiate addiction. Commissioner of Probation Edward Dolan and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian thanked attendees for their ongoing efforts to battle the opiate crisis. Other speakers included: Revere Fire Chief Gene Daugherty, Brian Sylvester of BSAS, Kim Hanton from the North Suffolk Mental Health Association, Gary Langis of the Educational Development Center, and Woburn Police Detective Brian McManus.
Ryan Skinner, an addict in recovery, also spoke about his experience as a HEAT client. Thomas Foye delivered the keynote address. Mr. Foye, a former Ludlow Police Lieutenant and town selectman, is serving a two-year sentence at the Hampshire County House of Correction for stealing drugs from the Ludlow Police Department’s evidence locker in 2013.
Mr. Foye delivered a compelling speech that outlined his descent into addiction. As a decorated 26-year veteran of the police force and the happily married father of three girls, Mr. Foye was a competitive triathlete when his doctor prescribed him painkillers after a hip replacement. Up for parole later this year, Mr. Foye described his actions leading up to his arrest and conviction as “selfish,” but that he hopes sharing his story will help eliminate the stigma of drug addiction, which can affect anyone.
“Mr. Foye spoke for about an hour,” said Chief Probation Officer Piro. “But during that time, there was complete silence. The effect his story had on the audience was incredible. His law enforcement background and credentials really hit home. The message was clear that there are no boundaries and that this could happen to any one of us—no one is immune from the dangers of addiction.”