For Immediate Release - September 20, 2011

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW MILESTONE IN FIGHT AGAINST OPIATE OVERDOSE DEATHS IN MASSACHUSETTS

1,000th opiate overdose reversal due to innovative Narcan pilot program

BOSTON - Tuesday, September 20, 2011- The Patrick-Murray Administration's Department of Public Health today announced that the state's Narcan pilot program has surpassed the 1,000th reported opiate overdose reversal since the pilot was introduced in 2007. In less than four years, eight separate community-based pilot sites have enrolled more than 10,000 people in the Narcan program, including opiate users and family and friends of opiate users.

Through a collaboration between the DPH Bureau of Substance Abuse Services and Bureau of Infectious Disease Office of HIV/AIDS, the Commonwealth has undertaken many strategies targeted at reducing both fatal and non-fatal opiate overdoses. These strategies include increased access to opiate treatment, funding for 15 municipalities to reduce overdoses at the community level - and the bystander intra-nasal naloxone (Narcan) pilot.

"Too many families have been impacted by the rise in opiate abuse and overdoses in Massachusetts," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Chair of the Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. "As we continue to combat opiate abuse and provide resources for prevention and treatment services, Narcan has proven to be a powerful tool in saving lives, so that opiate abusers can receive treatment and begin to recover from their addiction."

"Massachusetts is a national leader in opioid overdose prevention," said Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby, MD. "By using community-based programs to enroll participants and distribute Intra-nasal Narcan, this pilot has allowed us to reach opioid users and bystanders in communities across the state."

Narcan is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids such as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine and methadone. The pilot programs teach people how to use Narcan, including opioid users and trusted people in their lives such as family, friends and staff of human services programs. The Narcan pilot sites also provide education on overdose prevention and referrals to treatment.

"The success of the program in Massachusetts has been thanks to the program staff of our pilot sites that have worked tirelessly in their communities to combat opioid abuse," said Commissioner of Public Health John Auerbach. "Today is a day to celebrate, but also to pledge to continue working together to build upon that success."

DPH officials made the announcement at an event today at the State House, during which State Representative Liz Malia was honored for her leadership in addressing the issue of opiate abuse in the state. The eight Narcan program sites were also honored for their hard work to make this innovative pilot program a success.

"I am honored to receive this award and even more proud to be able to draw attention to the success of the Department of Public Health's pilot program to prevent opioid overdose deaths. I hope that we can expand this program and continue the critical fight against the misuse and abuse of opiates and the associated harms to our communities," said Representative Malia.

Intra-nasal Narcan is available at pilot sites located in 12 Massachusetts cities, including Boston, Brockton, Cambridge, Fall River, Gloucester, Hyannis, Lynn, New Bedford, Northampton, Provincetown, Quincy and Springfield. The pilot sites provide education on overdose prevention, recognition and response to opiate users and family and friends of opiate users, along with referrals to treatment.

Click here for more information on the Narcan pilot program and other ways that DPH is working with communities across Massachusetts to reduce opioid overdoses.

For a referral to treatment please go to www.helpline-online.com or call 800-327-5050.

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