October 4, 2018

Worcester, nonprofit get $1.2M to fight opioid addiction

Worcester has gotten a $745,000 share of U.S. Department of Justice funding to help fight opioid addiction through prevention, treatment and enforcement.

Worcester was one of 12 cities or programs statewide to receive a total of $8.4 million announced Wednesday by federal government. Nationwide, nearly $320 million was given to help fight the drug crisis.

Opioids were deemed by the state Department of Public Health as responsible for at least 1,909 deaths in Massachusetts last year and an estimated 1,017 through the first six months of 2018.

Of the 2017 total, 78 took place Worcester, according to the Department of Public Health.

Another recipient of the program, the Wayside Youth and Family Support Network out of Milford, was awarded $480,000 for a program to provide counseling and advocacy to children and families affected by opioids in Worcester County, along with Middlesex and Norfolk counties.

The Department of Justice did not specify how Worcester's funds would be used. But it's the second notable initiative in Worcester toward battling opioids in the past month. In September, UMass Memorial Health Care announced it has created an opioid task force to collect data on opioid use, establish priorities for patient care initiatives and catalog efforts to prevent and treat opioid use.

The new board is led by Dr. Kavita Babu, a toxicologist and emergency medicine physician at the hospital. Babu was also named the hospital's chief opioid officer.

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