Vargas Says State House Training Helps Reverse Stigma Around Opioid Overdose Treatment

Rep. Andy Vargas speaks during Brian Donaghue Simpson Naloxone Training and Advocacy Day. (Courtesy photograph.)

More than 150 Massachusetts legislators and their staffs recently learned how to use naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose.

Reps. Andy Vargas, Kate Donaghue and Smitty Pignatelli and Sen. John Keenan hosted the training at the State House for legislators and staff. Naloxone is commonly known by its brand name Narcan. The event, named the Brian Donaghue Simpson Naloxone Training and Advocacy Day, was held in honor of Donaghue’s late son Brian, who died of an overdose in 2018 when he was 32. The event honored his life and the 2,357 individuals that died from opioid overdoses in Massachusetts in 2022.

“Not long ago, people were arrested for giving people naloxone. Now, we’ve held a training and at the State House. We have a long way to go, but our progress in ending stigma is cause for hope. Naloxone is a life-saving tool that gives people a chance at recovery,” noted Vargas.

Legislators partnered with Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction. Harm Reduction Program Manager Stephen Murray gave a presentation on the current state of the opioid crisis in Massachusetts and demonstrated how to administer naloxone. Murray, who himself has been in recovery for 12 years, said the state must rethink how to approach the crisis.

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