Included in this year’s Fiscal Year 2016 State Budget is an amendment, sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), for $25,000 toward the Lawrence-Methuen Community Coalition (LMCC)’s recently formed Merrimack Valley Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative.
The LMCC is a resident-based coalition focused on the prevention of substance abuse, child abuse and domestic violence through the establishment of neighborhood associations and community networks.
Through a $100,000 grant awarded earlier this year by the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health, the coalition was able to compose an opioid data report on communities in North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence, Haverhill and Andover; a report the coalition recently released in conjunction with the official launch of its Merrimack Valley Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative, which will work to research the factors that contribute to local opioid abuse and find ways to improve and promote substance abuse education and prevention.
DiZoglio’s budget amendment will go toward resources and community outreach for the Collaborative. The funding was initially vetoed by Gov. Charlie Baker but restored by the Legislature for the final FY16 Budget.
“The fight against drug addiction in our communities has been one of the issues I have been most focused on in my time as State Representative,” said DiZoglio, who serves on the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “I have had so many conversations with residents in my district and across the Merrimack Valley who have dealt with substance abuse themselves or have friends or family who struggled with drug addiction. This funding will help specifically with youth outreach, prevention and education in our community.”
“Heroin use, addiction and the death tolls are tragic and rising and more primary prevention and overdose prevention education are necessary,” said LMCC Substance Abuse Prevention Director Delilah Rivera. “Many heroin users report having first abused prescription drugs before turning to heroin. Through this additional effort provided by State Representative Diana DiZoglio, we will be able to do more outreach and provide more education to our youth and community.”
“The additional funding secured by the Legislature and Rep. DiZoglio, is a great additional resource for the area,” said LMCC Director Harold Magoon. “As we continue in developing our capacity in preventing the use of opioids and overdoses in the Merrimack Valley, these resources will allow us to expand our prevention-based programming for youth and community education and engagement.”