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Addiction in Franklin County

Prescription addiction, recovery film Tuesday

GREENFIELD — A 16-year-old Greenfield girl caught up in an alleged small-time heroin dealer’s arrest last month was identified in the police report as a recovering heroin addict, having begun at the age of 14.

This may not be the typical teenage experience in Franklin County, but one organizers of a Tuesday event hope to prevent through this and future educational efforts, and by engaging schools and parents.

“The Hungry Heart” is a recent documentary filmed in Vermont that follows a family physician and his patients struggling with prescription opioid addiction.

The screening and a forum with cast members is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Greenfield Community College dining commons. No registration is necessary. Overflow rooms should increase capacity to about 600.

The event is sponsored by the Opioid Education and Awareness Task Force, in collaboration with Congressman James McGovern and GCC.

John Merrigan, who founded and co-directs the Task Force, is hoping for a strong showing from high schools, having met with superintendents last month — with Greenfield District Court Judge William F. Mazanec III to share his perspective from the bench that many future addicts begin as early as middle school.

“That’s not normal. T hat’s not something we’ve seen in the past, so it shows it’s spreading, and it shows if we don’t do our effort to educate ... it’s a growing problem in the community, in the state; clearly it’s going to be a growing problem in the schools,” Merrigan said.

Merrigan said he understands Greenfield High School and Pioneer Valley Regional School have been active in promoting the film to students and parents.

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