SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser has received a Special Recognition Award from the Massachusetts Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors for his leadership in fighting the state’s opioid epidemic.
The award was formally announced at the Association’s annual meeting on Friday, January 12 in Westborough.
“I am humbled to receive this award, and proud of the difference we have made in providing greater access to Narcan, which has saved hundreds of lives. But I am also very aware that we have much more to do,” Senator Lesser said. “We need to expand the number of treatment beds available, invest in alternative pain treatments and ultimately, the pharmaceutical companies that knowingly marketed these life-threatening products need to be held accountable.”
Preliminary numbers for 2017 show that overdose deaths in Massachusetts dropped 10 percent last year. This was due in part to the wide availability of Narcan, an overdose-reversal drug, and to the fact that Massachusetts was the first state to limit the number of opioid pills doctors can prescribe per prescription.
Senator Lesser could not attend the award ceremony because of a long-standing personal conflict. In lieu, Peter Crumb of Belchertown, a retired substance abuse counselor at Longmeadow High School and a board member of the Association, presented the award to Senator Lesser in his East Longmeadow office. The presentation was recorded in a video played at the ceremony in Westborough:
Watch the video here
“Since his election to the Massachusetts State Senate in 2014, Senator Eric Lesser has been an advocate for those who are fighting and recovering from addiction in the Commonwealth,” Crumb says in the video.
He highlighted Senator Lesser’s work to secure funding for Springfield’s drug court and increase the availability of Narcan, an opiate overdose-reversal drug.
Senator Lesser has been a leader in the fight against the opioid crisis. Most recently, 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.
Later this month, he will be visiting addiction treatment facilities and sitting down with high school students to discuss a bill he introduced that requires opioid addiction education in schools.