Printer Friendly Banner
City Council Office
 Policy Order Resolution
  O-16
  ORIGINAL ORDER
  IN CITY COUNCIL
  August 10, 2015
VICE MAYOR BENZAN
COUNCILLOR MCGOVERN

WHEREAS:

Opioids are pain relieving medication that reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect areas in the brain controlling emotion; medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, codeine, heroin and related drugs;
    

WHEREAS:

Opioids can also produce drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea, constipation, and depending upon the amount taken, Opioids depress respiration; and
   

WHEREAS:

Taken as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain safely and effectively; however, when abused, just a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death; depressed respiration can affect the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, which can have short- and long-term psychological and neurological effects, including coma and permanent brain damage; and
   

WHEREAS:

The Department of Public Health's Statistics show that the growth in opiate abuse and related deaths from heroin and prescription drugs began in the late 1990s and has grown at an alarming rate over the years; and
   

WHEREAS:

Learn to Cope, a non-profit statewide support group, as well as other addiction experts blame the rise in addiction rates and deaths on the an increase in the ability of prescription pain relievers, such as OxyCotin and Vicodon, which began in the mid-1990s; and
   

WHEREAS:

The Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program found that the number of prescriptions for Schedule 2 opioids, including OxyCotin, steadily increased from about half a million in 1992 to about 4.5 million in 2012; and
   

WHEREAS:

In the United States, Opiate overdose continues to be major health problem that has increased to almost 17,000 deaths per year among those who use, misuse, or opioid drugs; and
 

WHEREAS:

Massachusetts is experiencing an opioid epidemic where the number of unintentional fatal opioid overdoses increased by 90 percent from 2000 to 2012; and according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's June 10, 2014 Opioid Task Force Report, in 2012, there were 668 opioid related deaths and in 2014, there were 1,256 opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts; and these alarming opioid related deaths in Massachusetts surpassed the number of people in the State killed by car accidents and guns combined; and
   

WHEREAS:

Since the early 2000s, the age group reporting the highest level of heroin use in the annual U.S. Department of Health and Human services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's 2011-2012 survey has shifted from the 35-to-49 cohort to those between 26 and 34; and
   

WHEREAS:

The flood of prescription drugs introduced teens and college-aged people to opiates, eventually leading some to try heroin when they can no longer get prescription drugs; while a pill of OxyCotin can cost between 80 to 100 dollars, a bag of heroin, which provides the same effect, is 10 or 15 dollars; and heroin use leads to deterioration of the brain's white matter, affecting decision-making abilities and responses to stressful situations; and
   

WHEREAS:

This is biggest public health epidemic that our state and region is faced with right now; and
   

WHEREAS:

It is self-evident from simply walking through the Public Squares, such as Central Square, that our city is not immune to this epidemic; and given the risks for public safety, our City must address this issue aggressively; and
   

WHEREAS:

Our City is fortunate to have the Department of Public Health and numerous nonprofits and support groups that have been working tirelessly to address this issue but perhaps without the benefit of all the resources that could be made available by assessing this community in crisis; this epidemic impacts everyone in everyone in our City and region; and
   

WHEREAS:

The City must work towards increasing its capacity to deal with this crisis; it requires all stakeholders, government officials, and community members to stem the dramatic increase in opioid deaths, drug abuse, and homelessness in the city; and
   

WHEREAS:

The City must examine the need for more treatment beds; provide education on addiction for professionals to care about women and pregnant mothers; and work towards making Naloxone, commercially known as Narcan, more widely available; now therefore be it
   
ORDERED: That the appropriate City departments in conjunction with other stakeholders, such as the Salvation Army, Cambridge Overcoming Addiction, and other non-profits that they conduct a survey of opioid-related deaths and persons struggling with the epidemic that are frequenting our squares, particularly Central Square; and be it further
   
ORDERED: That the appropriate City departments conduct a survey of residents located around Central Square about any concerns that they might have about this crisis as evidence by them; and be it further
 
ORDERED: That his honor the Mayor be and here by is requested to schedule a roundtable discussion with the public, persons in recovery, victims, family of victims, Middlesex District Attorney, civic or retired Drug Court judges, local non-profits, City staff from appropriate departments, and other stakeholders to examine implementation strategies and appropriate additional funding to ensure that we have the capacity to treat growing numbers of persons dealing with opioid drug abuse, mental health- related issues and homelessness; and be it further

Living Working Visiting