Rep. DiZoglio Secures $25K for Drug Abuse Prevention

Rep. Diana DiZoglio.

A local legislator has secured $25,000 additional funding for a Merrimack Valley-based opioid abuse prevention collaborative including Haverhill, Andover and Methuen.

A state budget amendment sponsored by Rep. Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) will go toward resources and community outreach for the collaborative recently formed by the Lawrence-Methuen Community Coalition (LMCC). The funding was initially vetoed by Governor Charles D. Baker but restored by the legislature for the final fiscal 2016 budget, according to a statement.

“The fight against drug addiction in our communities has been one of the issues I have been most focused on in my time as state representative,” said DiZoglio, who serves on the legislature’s Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “I have had so many conversations with residents in my district and across the Merrimack Valley who have dealt with substance abuse themselves or have friends or family who struggled with drug addiction. This funding will help specifically with youth outreach, prevention and education in our community.”

Through a $100,000 grant awarded earlier this year by the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health, the coalition composed an opioid data report on communities including Haverhill, Methuen, Andover, North Andover and Lawrence. The report, recently released in conjunction with the official launch of the Merrimack Valley Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative, will work to research the factors that contribute to local opioid abuse and find ways to improve and promote substance abuse education and prevention.

In Haverhill, the city last December organized the Haverhill Overdose Prevention and Education (HOPE) task force in conjunction with The Haverhill Public School Department and several community organizations. The task force is made up of local human service agencies, school personnel, city officials, Haverhill Police Department personnel, Haverhill residents and other concerned individuals.

“Heroin use, addiction and the death tolls are tragic and rising and more primary prevention and overdose prevention education are necessary,” said LMCC Substance Abuse Prevention Director Delilah Rivera. “Many heroin users report having first abused prescription drugs before turning to heroin. Through this additional effort provided by State Representative Diana DiZoglio, we will be able to do more outreach and provide more education to our youth and community.”

“The additional funding secured by the Legislature and Rep. DiZoglio, is a great additional resource for the area,” said LMCC Director Harold Magoon. “As we continue in developing our capacity in preventing the use of opioids and overdoses in the Merrimack Valley, these resources will allow us to expand our prevention-based programming for youth and community education and engagement.”