NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The New Bedford Health Department announced Friday it has won a $550,000 competitive grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to establish a regional coalition whose goal will be to reduce the use of opioids and decrease the number of local deaths and hospital stays due to the misuse of the drugs.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said at a City Hall news conference that the new program will include the towns of Dartmouth, Marion, Rochester, and Wareham. “This isn’t a matter for just the city of New Bedford,” he said. “Every community in the Commonwealth and beyond is battling opioid addiction.
“This is something, frankly, that New Bedford has had — over the years — a lot of experience with,” the mayor added. As far back as the 1980’s, the city documented opioid misuse; but the issue today has a broader base. “It extends into suburban communities and rural communities… So much of the problem these days stems from the use of prescription painkillers, which often lead to the use of illicit drugs like heroin.”