Sen. Lesser, Reps. Tosado and Petrolati Applaud State Grants to Combat Opioid Epidemic in Western Mass.

Springfield and Ludlow programs to receive state contracts to treat more patients suffering from addiction

SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser and Reps. Jose Tosado and Thomas Petrolati welcomed the announcement by Gov. Charlie Baker this week that Behavioral Health Network and the Mental Health Association in Springfield, and the Gandara Center in Ludlow, will be contracted with the state Department of Health to open new specialized residential rehabilitation treatment programs to serve individuals who experience substance use and mental health disorders.

The programs include 398 treatment beds in total. Sen. Lesser has long called for more treatment beds as a needed tool in state efforts to fight the opioid epidemic by treating more of those addicted to opioids.

“The opioid epidemic requires a whole-of-society, all-of-the-above approach, meaning more treatment beds for those suffering from addiction, more awareness in schools about the dangers of certain drugs and more life-saving interventions like the availability and accessibility of Narcan. We have made strides in combating this epidemic, including bringing the fatality rate down, but we must continue to work on this because our communities continue to struggle with this scourge,” Sen. Lesser said.

“The Opioid Crisis has hit home and when our home-base is threatened by the face of danger we fight back! And I believe this community partnership of strong forces will be the magnetic shield of support, care and services to do just that. I'm extremely proud of the hard work and steadfast efforts of Sen. Lesser, myself, and colleagues in Government for working together to curb the Opioid Epidemic in Western Mass,” said Rep. Tosado.

“Thank you to the Administration for making this serious investment in tackling our opioid crisis. There is much we have to do and we all need to work together to help those suffering from opioid addiction,” Rep. Petrolati said.

The enhanced residential programs will provide round-the-clock services to people with moderate to severe substance use and mental health disorders in a safe, structured environment in communities across the state, according to a release by the Department of Health.

Sen. Lesser has been a leader in the fight against the opioid crisis. Last session, he sponsored an amendment to the Senate’s healthcare reform package that included funding for research into medication-assisted treatment to explore alternative treatments for pain.

In January 2015, Senator Lesser authored legislation to set up the Massachusetts bulk purchasing program for Narcan, an opiate overdose-reversal drug.

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Eric Lesser