Northwestern DA David Sullivan on Opioid Addiction | Connecting Point | Oct. 26, 2015

NORTHWESTERN DISTRICT ATTORNEY
DAVID SULLIVAN AND MAR I SAHEBBLE, DIRECTOR OF THE TASK
FORCE FOR FRANKLIN COUNTY AND THE NORTH QUABBIN REGION DISCUSS
ALL THE EFFORTS BEING MADE TO ITEM THE FLOOD OF OPIOID
ADDICTION AND OVERDOSE DEATHS IN THE REGION. >> IT WAS ALWAYS HERE, BUT IT
WAS BELOW THE SERVICE. WE IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS HAVE
DIED FROM THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE. I THINK WE’RE MAKING A LOT OF
PROGRESS WITH PRESCRIBERS, WE’RE GETTING THE WORD OUT TO GOVERNOR
BAKER. BUT TO TURN THIS SHIP AROUND
IT’S GOING TO TAKE A LONG TIME. WE REALLY STARTED WITH ALL THESE
OPIOIDS BEING PLENTIFUL, THAT’S PAINKILLERS BEING LIBERALLY
SUPPLIED. WE’RE AT THE POINT WHERE WE’RE
WORKING TO TURN THE SHIP AROUND AND GET PEOPLE TO THE MODE WHERE
WE DON’T GIVE PEOPLE OPIOIDS THEY WANT TO BE PRESCRIBED OR
NEED IT. >> WE SEEM TO HAVE A PROBLEM IN
WESTERN MASS. IT’S PARTICULARLY ACUTE. IS IT JUST BECAUSE IT’S THE
MEDIA, IS IT JUST BECAUSE WE’RE PAYING A LITTLE MORE ATTENTION? YOU REPRESENT COMMUNITIES,
SMALLER COMMUNITIES. IS THERE A PROBLEM, SOMETHING
MORE INTENSE, IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON? >> IT’S REAL. THE STEREOTYPE IS IT ONLY
HAPPENS IN CERTAIN CITIES. IT’S GONE BEYOND THAT. IN THE NORTHEAST YOU’VE SEEN IT
HIT EVERY AGE GROUP, GEOGRAPHIC GROUP AND GENDER GROUP. WE’RE SEEING THIS CORRESPONDING
WITH HOW MANY OVERDOSES THERE ARE. FOR EVERY DEATH THERE’S PROBABLY
NINE OR 10 OVERDOSE INCIDENTS WHERE PEOPLE LIVE SO WE’RE
REALLY LOOKING AT A REAL TSUNAMI. IT’S NOT AN EXTRA ACKNOWLEDGE
RACING WHEN WE LOSE THAT MANY FOLKS IN THE NORTHWEST. WE HAVE A SERIOUS EPIDEMIC ON
OUR HANDS. >> YOU TALKED TO ME BEFORE WE
STARTED THE TAPE ROLLING. YOU’RE DIRECTING OPIOID TASK
FORCE, BUT THE WAY YOU GOT THERE IS — THE BIGGEST COMMUNITY YOU
GOT THERE IS GREENFIELD, ABOUT 1,000 PEOPLE. WHEN YOU HAVE A COMMUNITY WITH
ONE OR 2,000 PEOPLE, EVERYBODY IS FAMILY SO WHEN THIS HAPPENS,
IT REALLY HITS HOME, DOESN’T IT. >> IT DOES. ESPECIALLY IN A RURAL COMMUNITY,
LIKE FRANKLIN COUNTY, WE’RE THE SECOND POOREST COUNTY IN THE
STATE. WE’RE DEALING WITH THE OPIOID
CRISIS THE WAY ALL THE OTHER COMMUNITIES ARE IN THE
COMMONWEALTH, BUT WITH LESS RESOURCES. IT’S CHALLENGING, BOTH ON THE
PREVENTION SIDE, MAKING SURE PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO PRIMARY
CARE, THERE’S PROBLEMS THERE WITH TRANSPORTATION, BUT ALSO
THE RECOVERING SIDE, PEOPLE AFTER TREATMENT, AFTER BEING
INCARCERATED, THEY DID SOMETHING RELATED TO THEIR ADDICTION, THAT
DOES SOMETHING TO THEIR RECOVERY AND SUPPORT. AND WHEN YOU ADD IN TWO PEOPLE
DIE IN A RURAL COMMUNITY EVERYBODY IS CONNECTED. THE RUN HE WILL EFFECTIVE IS
QUITE SIGNIFICANT THROUGH A RURAL REGION AND THAT’S OUR
COMMUNITIES ALL ACROSS THE COMMONWEALTH IS DEALING WITH
THIS. >> I WANT TO TALK MORE ABOUT
THAT SUPPORT SYSTEM IN A MINUTE. LET ME ASK YOU SOMETHING. THE THING THAT STRIKES ME, YOU
TOUCHED ON THIS IN YOUR FIRST ANSWERS. THIS ISN’T AN UNUSUAL PROBLEM
SEEMS TO ME BECAUSE THE VAST MAJORITY OF THESE PEOPLE WERE ON
LEGALLY PRESCRIBED MEDICATION, PAIN PILL FOR AN INJURY OR
ILLNESS, WHATEVER IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN AND THEN WHEN THEY GET PAST
THAT ILLNESS, FULL, THAT’S VERY STRONG DRUGS HAVE TAKEN HOLD OF
THEM AND THEY NEED TO GET THAT DRUG WHEREVER THEY CAN GET IT. THAT’S WHERE THE TROUBLE COMES
IN. THIS IS SO DIFFERENT. IT’S A PROBLEM OUR SEATTLE
CREATED REALLY THROUGH SCIENCE AND MEDICAL ADVANCES. >>, WELL PERFECT — PURDUE
PHARMACEUTICAL WELCOME PRODUCES OXY CONDONE. WHEN IT CAME OUT 20 YEARS — 30
YEARS AGO, IT WAS FOR PAIN. — [ INDISCERNIBLE ] —
NOT ONLY ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE LEGALLY PRESCRIBED, BUT IT’S
REALLY BEEN THAT DIVERSION, IT’S THE REACH INTO THE MEDICINE
CABINET BY A YOUNGER PERSON IN THE HOME OR CRIMINAL CODE OF
WISCONSIN BE A — IT COULD BE A CARETAKER THAT IS COMING INTO
THE HOUSE AND THAT IS WHERE THAT ABUSE IS COMING IN AS WELL, SO
WE’RE REALLY LOOKING AT AN EPIDEMIC, REALLY LIBERAL
OVERPRESCRIBING. WE WANT TO COLLECT ALL THESE
UNWANTED MEDICATIONS. WE JUST HAD A DRUG TAKEBACK. WE’VE COLLECTED ALMOST 25 POUNDS
OF UNWANTED MEDICATIONS, SO JUST GETTING THEM OUT OF THOSE
MEDICINE CABINETS CAN REALLY PREVENT THAT FROM HAPPENING. >> WHAT ABOUT THE PHARMACEUTICAL
PROFESSIONALS, GETTING IT TO DOCTORS AND PHARMACIES. THERE’S A PROBLEM HERE, WATCH
THIS, WATCH WHO GETS THIS, BECAUSE PEOPLE PHYSICIAN SHOP,
PHARMACY SHOP. ONE OR TWO IF YOU’RE DOING IT
FIVE TIMES AROUND THE COUNTY, YOU’VE GOT A PROBLEM ALL OF A
SUDDEN. >> WE’VE MADE LOTS OF PROGRESS
WITH EDUCATION OF DOCTORS AND PRESCRIBERS. A DOCTOR WE KNOW HAS BEEN REALLY
A CHAMPION FOR EDUCATION HAS REALLY COME ON BOARD. WE’VE TRAINED OVER 600 FARM
ASSISTS — PRESCRIBERS AND THEIR DELEGATES. WE’VE MADE STRIDES. THE C ON HE IN THE HOSPITAL
UNDERSTAND THAT IT’S A REAL PROBLEM THAT SOMETIMES CARTS IN
A HOSPITAL, BUT ALSO CAN BE PREVENTED AT A HOSPITAL. >> LET’S TALK ABOUT IT IN THE
COMMUNITY LEVEL WHERE I THINK YOU’RE WORKING IN FRANKLIN
COUNTY IN NORTH QUABBIN. THIS BECOMES A FAMILY IN A
NEIGHBORHOOD, A COMMUNITY PROBLEM PRETTY FAST. >> THE RIPPLE EFFECTIVE IN THE
COMMUNITY FROM THIS PARTICULAR ADDICTION IS SIGNIFICANT AND
THIS IS A COMPLICATED PROBLEM, SO IT’S SIGNIFICANT THAT WE LOOK
AT THIS IN TERMS OF PREVENTION, INTERVENTION, TRADITION AND
RECOVERY AND THAT EVERY SECTOR OF THE COMMUNITY HAS A ROLE TO
PLAY AND EVERY FACTOR OF THE COMMUNITY MUST PLAY IT. SO LAW ENFORCEMENT NEEDS TO DO
SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN OUR HOSPITALS DO, OUR SCHOOLS NEED
TO DO SOMETHING THAN OUR PARENTS PARENTS AND OTHERS SHOW. IT’S SO COMPLICATED, THAT IF WE
DON’T COME AT THIS WITH A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY WE’RE NOT
GOING TO MAKE A REALLY DIFFERENCE AS WE WANT TO IF
EVERYBODY IS ON BOARD. >> THE BEST STUDY WE STARTED WAS
HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS. WE’RE LOOKING AT THIS AS A
PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS AND TREATING THE ADDICTION FOR
OPIOID IS AS IT IS, AN ADDICTION. IT’S NOT CRIME PREVENTION. WE’RE TRYING TO CHANGE THE
ATTITUDE TO IT’S A CHRONIC ILLNESS. JUST AS WE TREAT HEART DISEASE,
FAMILIES THAT ARE SUFFERING WITH THIS LOVED ONE WHO HAS THIS
ADDICTION, THE FAMILIES CAN COME FORWARD AND GET THE HELP THEY
NEED. THE BIGGEST THING IS THE STIGMA,
WE ALWAYS CALL PEOPLE JUNKIES OR ADDICTS. WE LOOKED AT THEM AS A MORAL
FAILING AS WHAT IT IS, IT’S A DISEASE OR ADDICTION. WE’RE TRYING TO CHANGE THAT AT
TO DO ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE COMMUNITY. THAT’S WHY OUR OPIOID TASK FORCE
GO THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY AND LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU CAN GET
TREATMENT, WE’LL WELCOME YOU BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY, IT’S
NOT A CRIME TO ADMIT THAT YOU HAVE A DISEASE. WE HAVE RECOGNIZED THROUGH THE
GOOD SAMARITAN LAW, IF ANYBODY EVER OVERDOSES AND YOU’RE IN THE
PRESENCE OF THAT PERSON YOU CAN CALL ONCE IT’S NOT A CRIME SO WE
WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT HELP IS OUR OBJECTIVE, GETTING
THEM INTO TREATMENT AND LONG-TERM RECOVERY. >> IF THERE ARE FAMILIES
STRUGGLING, OTHER THINGS THAT FAMILIES KNOW THAT THEY SHOULD
HAVE NARCAN AT HOME. JUST AS PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
WITH RELAPSE WITH ICE CREAM. SOMETHING WELCOME BACK OPIOID
MAY OVERGOES. WE NEED ALL FAMILIES KNOW THAT
THEY NEED TO HAVE NARCAN. >> THAT IS THE MIRACLE OPIOID AN
TAG JUST — AN TAG CHRIS. >> IT’S AMAZING HOW MANY OF
THESE HAVE HAPPENED THROUGH THE DISTRICT, FROM TAP INDUSTRY
HEALTH TO POLICE, IT’S THE MIRACLE DRUG THAT KNOCKS THE
OPIOIDS OFF THE RECEPT FIRST IN THE BRAIN AND ALLOWS THAT PERSON
TO BREATHE AGAIN. WE TRY TO GET IT IN THE HANDS OF
EVERY FIRST RESPOND. ANYBODY WHO HAS SOMEONE THAT IS
HIGH RISK, WHO USED IN THE PAST OR PRESENTED TO REALLY GO DOWN
TO THE LOCAL WALGREEN’S OR CVS AND JUST GO IN AND GET IT. >> ATTORNEY SULLIVAN, BOTH OF
YOU, THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING FOR US. >> THANK YOU.

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