City councilors discuss ways to fight Springfield's opioid epidemic (WWLP)
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Opioid deaths more than doubled in Springfield between 2017 and 2018.
Only Worcester had more deadly overdoses than Springfield last year. City leaders met on Tuesday night to find ways to save lives. The opioid epidemic is growing locally and nationally.
Opioid overdose deaths have increased significantly in western Massachusetts, especially in the city of Springfield. The amount of Springfield residents who died due to opioids doubled from 2017 to 2018.
That number went from 38 overdose deaths in 2017 to 80 in 2018. The Springfield Public Health Department attributes the increase to the powerful and deadly opioid fentanyl.
City leaders brainstormed ways to battle the opioid epidemic during their meeting on Tuesday. City Councilor Jesse Lederman said he'll be working on state legislation to get treatment for those who need it.
“We're taking steps already, but we also want to know what we can do at the local and state level in response to this epidemic,” Lederman told 22News.
Most of Springfield's opioid overdose deaths occurred in the city's north and south end neighborhoods. Health Director Helen Caulton-Harris said fighting the epidemic begins in the community.
“We want to make sure we're preventing individuals from using these substances,” Caulton-Harris said. “We want to intervene to get in the neighborhoods and give them the necessary tools and information to break this deadly cycle.”
Lederman said the city is also working on starting a peer recovery center to support individuals after rehab and avoid relapse.