Gardner Receives $100K Grant To Fight Drug Abuse

Gardner Receives $100K Grant To Fight Drug Abuse

City to lead regional coalition

Published in the Gardner News 5/20/2015 6:45:00 AM

Katie Landeck
News Staff Writer

GARDNER - As the government continues to combat substance abuse, Gardner, in conjunction with LUK services, has received a $100,000 state grant to create a regional collaborative to add­ress the issue. 

The grant — part of a $2.9 million package Gov. Charlie Baker announced last week — will provide substance abuse prevention services to Gardner, Athol, Phillipston, Templeton and Royalston.

“With our communities on the front lines of prevention and treatment, these grants will offer additional tools to educate and respond to substance abuse, including our growing opioid epidemic,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito in a press release. 

The money will most likely go toward hiring a coordinator for the new collaborative and funding programs, such as Narcan training, according to Gardner Health Director Bernie Sullivan. 

“In Gardner, we’ve done some training under the Mont­achusett Opioid Abuse Prev­ention Collaborative,” said Mr. Sullivan. “This will provide some additional resources to Gardner, but is mainly to get into some of the smaller towns and knit them together.” 

The model for the program will be similar to MOAPC or the Gardner Community Action Team, where stakeholders will have a seat at the table as work on addressing opiate abuse in the region continues. 

The hope, according to state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan, D-Leo­m­inster, is the program will increase municipal engagement in combating addiction. It will also widen the scope of the Department of Public Health’s prevention work, boosting the number of participating communities from 27 to 127.

The grant is meant to build on the DPH’s Under-Age Drinking prevention grant, expanding the scope of work to include opiates in addition to alcohol.

“The SAPC grant is an example of the commonwealth taking steps in the right direction toward dealing with the addiction epidemic,” said Ms. Flanagan.

“I am very excited to see what other programs will be developing as we move forward.” For the past year and a half, addiction services have been at the forefront of Massachusetts politics as opiate death rates spike and more people have come forward to fight for better care.

“I think we’ve raised awareness and changed some of the perceptions,” said Mr. Sullivan. “I don’t think the perception is as widespread anymore that ‘they’re just junkies, to hell with them.’”

As to whether the efforts have reduced the number of people abusing opiates, Mr. Sullivan said he didn’t have the data, noting substance abuse is often covert.

However, one thing that has changed, he said, is access to Narcan, a nasal spray that is capable of reversing an opioid overdose in minutes. Previously scarce, now addicts and their loved ones can purchase it at CVS for the price of their co-pay.

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