For Immediate Release - June 13, 2017

11th Annual HEAT Conference to explore marijuana legalization and current Bay State addiction trends

(Woburn, MA)- Senator Jason Lewis of the 5th Middlesex District will address an audience of more than 300 law enforcement, Massachusetts Probation Service, and treatment and health services professionals on the legalization of marijuana and its impact at the 11th Annual HEAT (Heroin Education Awareness Task Force) Conference. HEAT Conference presenters will also explore current addiction trends including the use of Carfentanyl.

The conference will take place on Friday, June 16, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Hilton Hotel, 2 Forbes Road, Woburn.

Atlas Training Consultant Gretchen Grappone will provide “Stigma Reduction” training for law enforcement, health, and human services professionals in the community at the half-day event. This training is an intervention strategy for reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and addiction. Training interventions involve providing attendees with educational information about the causes, forms, and experiences of people suffering with addiction and mental health challenges to counteract stereotypes and promote affirming attitudes.

HEAT was created to inform parents and loved ones of individuals who suffer with addiction, including providing tips on what to look for if a relative is using drugs. Its primary mission is education, prevention, and treatment of substance abuse, according to Woburn District Chief Probation Officer Vincent Piro, a co-founder of the HEAT Program. Since its inception, HEAT has educated more than 6,000 people about opioid addiction and has helped families find treatment for more than 3,000 individuals suffering with addiction.

“Overdose rates continue to increase amidst bulk arrests and repeated efforts of our law enforcement and our entire community. There are not many people in our state never mind country that have NOT been affected by this devastating addiction. The battle to educate and change lives continues,” Piro said. “Fentanyl is still a major concern. It is 50-100 times more potent than morphine or heroin and comes in many different forms including a pressed pill called Norco.”

Piro established HEAT with now retired Probation Officer Michael Higgins, who currently works as a Substance Abuse Coordinator for the town of Billerica.

Higgins will discuss continued efforts in networking education, treatment, and partnerships in the community. Woburn Police Detective Sergeant Brian McManus will discuss trends, pathways to treatment, and overdose patterns. Attorney Sarah C. Fallon will inform the audience of recent updates to the law as well as the Board’s Prescribing Practices Policy and Guidelines.