State-funded Prevention Collaborative between Somerville, Cambridge, Everett and Watertown reports on needs and next steps, including prevention initiatives and NARCAN use.

SOMERVILLE – Strategies to expand efforts to prevent heroin
and opioid use and overdoses, including the use of the opioid overdose antidote
nasal NARCAN, are now being developed by a four-city Massachusetts Opioid
Addiction and Prevention Collaborative (MOAPC) that includes Somerville,
Cambridge, Everett and Watertown. Funded by a $100,000 Massachusetts Department
of Public Health MOAPC grant awarded in July 2013, the Collaborative conducted
an in-depth needs assessment and presented its findings on Feb. 10 to
Somerville’s new Substance Use and Mental Health community stakeholder group,
which unites community stakeholders working on suicide prevention, jail diversion
and substance use.


The assessment’s review of hospital and 911 call data
confirmed that the primary at-risk population in Somerville is young adults aged
20 to 29, primarily males. The rate of overdoses in Somerville is slightly
lower than in the state, but data from stakeholder interviews indicates that in
all four communities, there is growing concern about overdoses and misuse of
prescription drugs. With the resources and supports of the current grant, the
Collaborative has identified the following goals to work toward prevention:


1. Disseminate information to address the misconceptions
around prescription drug use.

2. Provide education on the proper disposal of prescription
drugs including via the kiosk available 24/7 at the PublicSafety

220 Washington St
no questions asked. (Did you know that most youth have identified that they
access prescription medication most commonly from their or a loved ones’
medicine cabinet?)

3. Raise awareness about supports for the recovery community



  • Massachusetts
    Substance Use Helpline
    : 1-800-327-5050
  • Families
    @ 121 Washington St., Medford. Meets Tuesday 7 p.m.  781-727-1803
  • Learn 2 Cope
    @ Spaulding Hospital, 1575 Cambridge St., Cambridge. Meets Monday 7 p.m. 508-738-5148.
    Use main entrance and follow signs to the 3rd Floor Chapel. 
    If you have questions, stop at the reception desk. Free visitor parking at Lot
    E on Hovey Avenue.



 “We recognize this is
just a start and we also recognize the need to gain further input from many
perspectives including those in recovery as well as family members, faith
groups and providers,” said Trauma Response Network Manager and Clinical Youth
Specialist Patricia Contente. “This is a problem that we need to solve together
as a community—and across communities—and we thank the State for their support
of our efforts.”


Building on Past
Prevention Efforts and Expanding NARCAN Access


The Collaborative builds on the ongoing, long-term
prevention efforts by the City’s
Somerville Office of Prevention
, Somerville
Cares About Prevention
, and the Somerville
Trauma Response Network
, including their “How to Save a Life” program
established in 2011 in response to an increase in fatal overdoses that year. In
2011, the City had 23 nonfatal overdoses and 3 fatal overdoses of individuals
between the age of 26 and 34. In

response, the Somerville Health Department in collaboration
with Police, Fire, Teen Empowerment, Cambridge Health Alliance and a host of
other community providers offered the “How to Save a Life” program, which
included training in NARCAN and the distribution of NARCAN to targeted
community members. NARCAN is an antidote for overdoses caused by opioid class
drugs, which include heroin. It is important to understand that NARCAN is not
effective on overdoses caused by other substances such as cocaine or


“Through the Collaborative, we have been working once again
to train local providers in the use of NARCAN, and in Somerville we are
fortunate that Cataldo ambulance services carry this antidote and that Police
and Fire have been moving quickly to get their members trained to carry in
response to the increase in fatal overdoses in the region in the past few
months,” said Cory Mashburn, the Director of the Somerville Office of
Prevention. “At the same time, it’s important to remember that we must also
focus on prevention efforts long before we ever get close to the risk of an overdose.”


“When we faced this crisis nine years ago, we went through a
lot of healing. We learned a lot. And one thing we learned is that addiction
charges us to be vigilant. We must take a comprehensive approach to opioid use
and overdose prevention,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “That’s why we are
making sure that our first responders get the training they need and will have
NARCAN on hand, so that if we can save a life, we will. But it’s also why our
prevention efforts cannot let up. We know from experience that when the
community comes together to educate, provide services, talk to our youth, and
provide trauma response it can prevent tragedy. The work of saving a life begins
much earlier than the moment someone dials 911.”


The Somerville Fire Department reached out to the Cambridge
Health Alliance earlier this year to establish NARCAN training for Somerville firefighters,
which they expect to begin soon, and the Somerville Police will begin NARCAN
training as part of their CPR program in March.


“Heroin and prescription drug addiction can affect any
family, and we need to make sure that the resources needed to support those
struggling with addiction or the addiction of a family member are not just
available, but also that they address this problem from start to finish, from
drug prevention to overdose rescue,” said Ward 1 Alderman Matt McLaughlin.
“This is not just an individual or isolated issue that some should battle
alone. Unaddressed addiction impacts the whole community and puts others,
especially our younger residents, at risk of being drawn into this destructive


The next stakeholder meeting on Substance Use and Mental
Health will be held on April 14 from 12-2:30 p.m. at the Somerville Public
Safety Building. The Office of Prevention is also in the process of scheduling
“How to Save A Life” on April 8 and a promotion highlighting National Take
Back Day
on April 26. 


For more information or to participate in upcoming programs
please contact Patty Contente at 617-625-6600 ext. 4325 or
or Cory Mashburn at 617-625-6600 ext. 2570 
or Also look for announcements on the
City calendar and our Facebook page



– END –



Contact: Denise Taylor
617-625-6600, ext. 2103