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UK: Task Force offers ideas for opioid addiction solutions

London: The state task force that has been assigned to provide solutions to the governor with respect to opioid addiction crisis has been able to offer ideas.

According to the task force's recommendation, expanding state-funded residential treatment plans for underserved populations along with geographically underserved regions such as Franklin County can be an effective way to handle opioid addiction crisis in the state.

John Merrigan from Franklin Register of Probate and Family Court, co-founded the Hampshire County, Franklin County, and North Quabbin Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force last year in order to handle the increasing presence of a region and state wide problem, and the increasing number of families broken by drug abuse, which came to his office for help.

In March, Gov. Deval Patrick accredited the recommendations while announcing an opioid public health emergency across the state. According to a release from his office, Patrick's response on Tuesday included arranging a meeting of regional governors on 17th June at Brandeis University in order to discuss about a regional response to opioid addiction crisis.

The twin problems of opioid and heroin painkiller abuse and addiction have allegedly taken hold over the Northeast, with news from New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and elsewhere reporting the same local situation.

Among the governor's list of steps taken from Opioid Task Force's recommendations are expanding treatment services and development of a real-time tracking system for these services.

The recommendations report attaches expansion of services in several areas, and the development of recommended tracking system, maybe an 800-number, to a 10 million dollar trust fund for expanded services suggested in the senate version of the state budget.

In addition to the recommendation for a proposed detox facility listed by DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, Marisa Hebble, who is a coordinator of the area Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force, felt that the region will be a strong candidate for two other recommendations - expanded hours for peer-to-peer recovery centers and five new prevention coalitions.

Hebble said that the Education and Awareness Task Force can benefit from sustained funding, which started this year. Moreover, The RECOVER Project, on Federal Street in Greenfield, is actually the state's first peer-to-peer recovery center, and can benefit from increased financial support to extend hours into weekends and nights, as suggested by the state task force.

Department of Public Health and Division of Insurance will also analyze insurance coverage and establish a minimum point at which medical insurers need to cover opioid abuse and addiction treatment.

Currently, medical insurers are required by law to include medically necessary addiction treatment as they would any other treatment, however what makes up medical necessity has been left up to individual insurers.