Updated: Jun 22, 2015 2:56 PM PDT Boston (AP)
Massachusetts is in the midst of an epidemic of deadly opioid abuse, according to a task force created by Gov. Charlie Baker that said Monday that drug addiction must be considered a medical disease.
The governor announced a $27 million plan to battle the crisis.
Janis McGrory of Harwich was among those joining Governor Baker at the State House to call for major changes to deal with the state’s opiate addiction crisis.
McGrory’s daughter is among the thousands who died of an overdose, a problem that started with prescription painkillers.
“I lost my beautiful 23-year-old daughter Liz just four years ago to an accidental heroin overdose,” she said.
McGrory appears in a public service announcement running on TV now. This is part of the recommendations the governor received from his task force on opioid abuse.
In total on Monday, he unveiled some 65 steps to fight it.
He wants to spend $27 million on education, intervention, treatment and recovery, and says he believes he can find the money.
“We’ll figure it out. I mean $27 million in a $40 billion budget, $38 billion, we’ll figure it out,” he said.
Attorney General Maura Healey, who also has made this issue a priority, says her office can target treatment centers and providers, but believes addiction is an illness.
“In Massachusetts we are not going to arrest or incarcerate our way out of this,” she said. “This is a disease this is a public health crisis and we must treat it and address it as such.
” Governor Baker said a one size fits all approach won’t work for a problem as big as this, and before he was through, he said it was a problem that has touched the lives of everyone, including him.
“Like everybody, I think I have family that almost lost somebody to this,” Baker said. “And frankly, most of us think it was an act of God that we didn’t.
” Baker also wants to add 100 new treatment beds by July of 2016, and ensure anyone who prescribes medication undergoes education for it.