HRiA and the Helpline hosted a press event on October 18 highlighting the Commonwealth’s aggressive response to the opioid epidemic and substance use disorder, featuring speakers Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary Marylou Sudders of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and Commissioner Monica Bharel of the MA Department of Public Health. They spoke of increased funding to address substance use disorder, expanding access to treatment, and an expanded statewide standing order for naloxone (Narcan), now requiring insurance to cover consumer costs regardless of whether the transaction involves the person actually using the medication. They applauded the work of the MA Substance Use Helpline in connecting those in need to treatment and recovery services, and announced additional funding to promote Helpline services.
HRiA’s Jeremy Holman offered encouragement that the opioid epidemic is a public health fight we can win, and he introduced colleague Kathy Dwyer, who shared poignant insights from her nine years as a Helpline Screening and Information Specialist. She is constantly impressed by the courage of Helpline callers, young and old, seeking help for themselves or people they love. As a woman in long-term recovery, Kathy said “I am so grateful to work at the Helpline. It allows me to give back what was given to me and it is an honor, if only for the length of a phone call, to be on so many different people’s path to recovery and healing.”
The same day, HRiA launched the Helpline’s “Stories of Hope” campaign, featuring real people who are in recovery and spreading the hope of the Helpline across Massachusetts.