Shrewsbury High School to host community awareness forum on the opioid epidemic

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Shrewsbury – An important community awareness forum on the opioid epidemic will be held Monday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at Shrewsbury High School, 64 Holden St. The event is sponsored by the Shrewsbury Coalition for Addiction Prevention and Education (SCAPE), Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s Central Mass. Opioid Task Force, Senator Michael O. Moore, D-Millbury, and Representative Hannah Kane, R-Shrewsbury.

On average, four people a day are losing their lives in Massachusetts by overdosing on an opiate. Governor Charles Baker recently signed into law a bill (H 4056) that included limits for first-time opioid prescriptions for adults and all opiate prescriptions for minors to a seven-day supply, gives patients the ability to request that a doctor prescribe less than the standard number of opioid pills or have a pharmacist fill less than the full amount of an opiate prescription, and will make screening of middle and high school students for signs of substance abuse and addiction more regular across Massachusetts. It also requires that doctors check the Prescription Monitoring Program before subscribing to ensure that patients are not visiting multiple doctors for pills, as well as many other new checks and balances to prevent the misuse of opiates.

“Drug addiction has had an impact on the quality of all of our lives,” Early said, “but we are confronting the crisis head on with intelligence, hard work and commitment.”

While this legislation is a step in the right direction, the community forum is designed to raise awareness and educate parents about actions they can take to limit the exposure to opiates, and learn about resources available should a family need them.

“Confronting the opioid crisis on all fronts is critical to turning the tide on this indiscriminate epidemic,” Kane said. “No community is immune and I encourage all Shrewsbury parents, particularly those with middle school or high school students, educators and community members to join us to hear about the actions we can all take as informed residents to aid in the fight against opioid misuse.”

The panel will be moderated by Shrewsbury High School Principal (and member of SCAPE) Todd Byzydlo, and include District Attorney Early; Charles Faris, president/CEO of Spectrum Health Systems; Lt. James Lonchiadis of the Shrewsbury Police Department; Cassandra Andersen from the Department of Public Health; a parent of a recovering addict; a person in recovery; Senator Moore and Representative Kane.

“Many of us have lost a friend, neighbor or family member to addiction, or know someone impacted by its destructive force,” Moore said.  “As a legislator, and as a parent, I recognize that we cannot succeed at repelling this epidemic and reducing the risk to our families until we confront the realities of this challenge and take full advantage of the available resources. None of our children are immune from addiction issues or the potentially life-threatening consequences, which is why I’m encouraging parents to attend this event.”

Resources tables will be set up from 7-7:30 p.m. and the panel discussion will take place from 7:30-9 p.m. There will be planned time for attendees to ask questions.