New England governors: Fighting stigma key to opioid battle

BOSTON (AP/WPRI) — All six New England governors say fighting the social stigma associated with addiction is key to battling the opioid crisis raging across the region, claiming thousands of lives.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker participated at the Harvard Medical School forum Tuesday with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.

The governors discussed a series of steps needed to fight the problem, from increasing education in schools about the addictive nature of opioids to limiting first-time prescriptions for opiate painkillers and ratcheting up law enforcement efforts targeting heroin and fentanyl.

“This isn’t about trying to hand over physicians or overly regulating their practice,” stated Gov. Raimondo. “It’s about dealing with a public health crisis and acknowledging physicians and prescribers have to be at the table if we’re going to address the crisis.”

They say key to all the approaches is removing the stigma around addiction and encouraging people to seek treatment. All are Democrats except Baker and LePage.

Stephanie Johnston contributed to this report. 

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