WILBRAHAM- Senator Lesser delivered a speech on Friday to parents, public health officials, community leaders, students, and school administrators at the “Partners in Prevention” conference hosted by the Hampden-Wilbraham Safe and Healthy Students Coalition. The event was designed to educate participants about preventing teen substance abuse.
“Teenagers are especially vulnerable to the dangers of addiction, but by working together, we can prevent substance abuse before it happens,” Senator Lesser said. “Our communities have been hit hard- but it’s up to us to hit back.”
Adolescents are especially vulnerable to addiction, and in 2015, 10% of Massachusetts opioid-related deaths were people under 24. Nationally, 1 in 8 teens reports using opioids for nonmedical purposes. Further, Hampden County has been especially affected by the opioid epidemic. The county saw 734 opioid deaths between 2010 and 2015.
Senator Lesser has sponsored legislation to close the pharmacy shopping loophole, and sponsored legislation to create a bulk purchasing program for naloxone, the anti-overdose drug. Both measures were passed into law last year.
Because of these new laws, pharmacies now have to report to the Prescription Monitoring Program within 24 hours rather than 7 days. This allows for faster identification of “pharmacy shopping” and more effective overdose prevention. The Narcan bulk purchasing plan allows cities and towns to buy the anti-overdose drug in bulk, lowering prices and better equipping first responders to reverse the effects of overdose.