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How Boston is Battling the Opioid Crisis

by Ash Arjan

In 2017, 274 people died of an opioid-related overdose in the City of Boston*.  This number does not include smaller, outlying suburbs and towns, and the death toll has only risen in the last few years. In response to what has become a full-fledged epidemic, a variety of programs have been established by both government and private organizations with one goal, reducing Boston’s growing number of opioid overdose deaths.

Some, such as Massachusetts General Hospital’s Care Zone Van, operate as a mobile care center offering street-level support and medical care to individuals struggling with addiction, with the goal of guiding those individuals in to a basic treatment program.  It often begins as simply as providing a sandwich, a clean needle or just by listening to their troubles for a few minutes. These simple acts build trust that may one day put the physicians, nurses and advocates in a position to help people begin a medication-assisted treatment program, check into a residential program or take advantage of other opportunities to improve their health and their lives.

One of the primary goals of the CareZone Van is to begin patients on a Suboxone® treatment program. Suboxone® along with methadone are two of a handful of medications approved by the FDA to treat opioid use disorder, and have been proven to provide those struggling with addiction the best possible chance at recovery. Boston providers like Health Care Resource Centers (HCRC) specialize in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and offer an established system of comprehensive, treatment programs utilizing medication and counseling.

HCRC is located near the Boston Medical Center, on Bradston Street in an area that offers an abundance of services for those struggling with addiction, homelessness and other social issues. The program, like others nearby, provides patients treatment in an area close to other neighborhood support facilities, such as Health Care for the Homeless, The Boston Public Health Commission and area NA meetings. The proximity of all of these services helps people maintain program attendance and increase their chances at improving their lives and finding success in recovery from opioid addiction.

When you are dealing with substance abuse, you know that getting help and then staying committed can be a challenge. It is not uncommon for individuals to try, and fail, to maintain sobriety and recovery advocates and physicians know that relapse is, more often than not, a part of the journey. The CareZone Van, HCRC and other Boston-based organizations work to meet patients where they are at. As a part of a MAT program the clinic will work with you to refer you to the appropriate resources, whether you require food, shelter, or medical care. For those that are expecting, the challenges are even greater, which is why HCRC maintains a close relationship with Boston Medical Center’s Project RESPECT, offering care to mothers-to-be.

For those that aren’t sure where to get started, the State of Massachusetts has created a Substance Use Helpline. The only statewide resource for finding substance use treatment and recovery services, the Helpline is confidential can provide a list of providers and a number of educational resources as well.

HCRC is a member of the Boston recovery community, serving the metro area and easily accessible from the MBTA Bus system. If you are struggling with an opioid addiction and would like to look at MAT as an option, we encourage you to please contact us so that we can help you take your first steps toward recovery.

Discover More Resources on Opioid Addiction Treatment

Looking for more information on opioid use disorder and MAT? You can visit our blog for more guides on opioids and addiction recovery. Our team can also help after you complete our online contact form.

* References: https://www.mass.gov/lists/current-opioid-statistics 

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