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Editorial: A boost in fighting addiction

Combating addiction to heroin and other like substances in the Franklin County area got a boost recently with much-needed help from the state.

The entire package includes money for two new detox centers — one to serve the population of the North Quabbin region and the other facility in Franklin County — will help fill a serious void that has existed in the region.

The Franklin County facility was included in the state’s new $10 million statewide Substance Abuse Services Trust Fund. As Stephen Kulik, one of the state representatives serving Franklin County who also sits as vice-chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said recently, this trust fund will help pay for an assortment of services and programs, including mental health and substance abuse counselors for our schools; having addiction specialists available for the court system; and prescription monitoring for opiate-based painkillers.

Besides making an effort through the its budget, Massachusetts state government broadened its approach for aiding recovery efforts through a substance abuse law that was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick. Among the bill’s measures is getting insurance providers to reimburse patients for addiction treatment they receive from licensed counselors and removing “prior-authorization requirements for outpatient substance abuse treatment and provides for coverage of up to 14 days in an inpatient setting, if deemed medically appropriate,” according to a description of the bill.

This all offers significant help in the ongoing struggle with this type of addiction — which earlier this year was declared a public health emergency by the governor. As substantial an effort, financially and otherwise, as this appears to be, there remains much more to be done. Steven Bradley, Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s new president, recently said that a new treatment center was just the start. “This is really the first installment of what is going to be needed to build both treatment and capacity. We don’t have anywhere near enough treatment options or capacity for treatment,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to advocate for more resources for the entire county. It’s a good thing that’s happened. We need to see other good things happen.”

That’s going to take a sustained effort locally and on the state level. Thankfully, there are plenty of people, from those involved in the Franklin County Opioid Task Force and the region’s legislative delegation, who seem to be up to the task.

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