Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan Highlights Local Efforts In Response To Opioid Crisis At Greater Lowell Community Foundation Annual Meeting

Lowell, MA – On June 7, 2016 nearly 200 community members gathered at UTEC in Lowell to hear Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan speak on local efforts to address the growing epidemic of opioid abuse in Greater Lowell and the Merrimack Valley.  District Attorney Ryan was the evening’s keynote at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s Annual Meeting.

District Attorney Ryan is recognized for her leadership on the opioid crisis and her innovative programs that address all aspects of abuse and addiction—prosecution, prevention, and treatment. In 2012, she founded the office’s first Opioid Drug Task Force in the Lowell region.

At the event, District Attorney Ryan talked about the many faces of opioid addiction including oftentimes overlooked populations such as children born addicted to opiates, students who become addicted while recovering from sports injuries, and children who witness a parent’s overdose. She asked the audience to imagine being seven years old and witnessing your mother unconscious on the floor. Your mother is being worked on by paramedics. She is transported to the hospital. She never returns home.

This is not a fictional story. It’s one of many true stories police and paramedics are responding to every day in the Merrimack Valley. District Attorney Ryan highlighted a partnership called Project C.A.R.E. between the District Attorney’s Office, the Lowell Police Department, and he Mental Health Association of Greater Lowell. The program is a model for providing psychological and trauma support to children coping with the loss of a parent to overdose.

“It is clear that in order to address the problem of the opioid epidemic in our communities we must continue to work together collaboratively,” said District Attorney Ryan. “The Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s focus on this topic at their annual meeting is an important step in bringing the community together to continue to raise awareness and increase education around this issue.”

In his director’s report, Executive Director Jay Linnehan said that “Too many families are being torn apart because of this addiction. We owe it to our community to respond. The Foundation is committed to working collaboratively with local government, health care organizations, law enforcement, nonprofits, families and our donor network to raise awareness and align resources to address the opioid epidemic.”

The evening event also featured guest speaker Tim Grover, founder of Megan’s House a residential treatment home for women. Grover shared his personal story about losing a daughter to addiction and his commitment to helping others struggling to recover. Megan’s House uses evidenced-based substance abuse treatment programs emphasizing individual dignity, self-respect and empowerment and works with residents on a creating a lifelong recovery plan. Grover stressed that, for its residents, Megan’s House is not just a treatment facility, it is a home. Some of the young women who are residents at Megan’s House are unable to return home to their families because addiction is occurring in their family environments. In their journey to recovery, Megan’s House becomes that safe, supportive home environment.

Several nonprofit organizations from Greater Lowell that are working on opioid abuse education, prevention, and treatment provided information on their services including the Mental Health Association or Greater Lowell, Lowell Community Health Center, Megan’s House, Westford Against Substance Abuse, Lowell House, Inc., and Zack’s Team Foundation. Trinity EMS was also on-hand to discuss life-saving techniques for individuals experiencing a drug overdose.