A new name is given to a recently-created city task force in Haverhill to help fight the heroin drug epidemic.
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini announced Monday the task force he started on opiate addiction will now be known as the Haverhill Overdose Prevention and Education Task Force (HOPE). According to Fiorentini, there will be a number of speakers to give families and others, who may be struggling with addiction, resource options for help and a discussion on what to look for in someone who may be suffering from an addiction problem.
“I created this task force to combat the heroin problems we have in our city, but we can only make progress if we have a coordinated approach that includes State, Federal and local agencies. That coordinated approach must include the police,but it cannot be limited to them. It must also include making certain that there are adequate treatment resources available to all who need them. It must also include a general public that is engaged on this issue. This community meeting is the start of many educational public seminars to do exactly that. Our goal is to educate the public on the signs and use of heroin,” Fiorentini said.
The task force will hold its first public meeting in a forum, to be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, at the Consentino Middle School, 685 Washington St.
For the first half of December, Massachusetts State Police Colonel Timothy P. Alben said detectives assigned to district attorney’s offices responded to 58 suspected heroin/opiate related deaths. The numbers do not include the cities of Boston, Worcester or Springfield. “Our investigators, working in conjunction with local police, draw these preliminary conclusions based upon evidence located at death scenes and interviews with witnesses, family or friends,” Alben said.
Haverhill’s meeting will also include resource tables for people and families struggling with addiction, information on Narcan distribution and a panel discussion on steps the city is taking to address the heroin overdoses and addiction in the community.
The public forum to be held on Wednesday was organized in conjunction with area clinic providers, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, Haverhill Police Department, the Haverhill District Court Probation Department, the Haverhill Board of Health and the Essex County Sherriff’s Office.