Let’s see how PDMPs are working for the state of Massachusetts


12/14/2009, Usefulness of prescription monitoring programs for surveillance—analysis of Schedule II opioid prescription data in Massachusetts, 1996–2006

Conclusions. PMPs can become a useful public health surveillance tool to monitor the medical and non-medical use of prescription opioids and to inform public health and safety policy.


9/27/2014, LAURA MARTIN: Time to end the silence about heroin

For the past four years, I’ve been an assistant district attorney in Quincy District Court’s Drug Court. My brother Danny Martin was a graduate of Norwell High School where he played varsity football and lacrosse, Suffolk University and, in September 2004, he was about to start his first year at New England School of Law. On Aug. 1, 2004, Danny overdosed in his childhood bedroom. Unfortunately, my story is not unique nor is my brother Danny’s. But both are rarely shared because of the stigma surrounding addiction…

Danny’s struggle with addiction began in high school after he was prescribed painkillers for a sports injury. He maintained his addiction to painkillers until it became too expensive at which time he started using heroin… 

He needed help, but he was ashamed to ask for it. In the final year of his life, he placed himself in a few detox facilities, but, despite all his willpower, he simply couldn’t stop using. Danny knew this and so in the summer of 2004 he went on his own to Quincy District Court and filed a Section 35 commitment on himself. With no criminal record or prior long term treatment history he was offered a bed at Men’s Addiction Treatment Center. When the judge provided him with this alternative, Danny declined explaining that he had to go somewhere he knew he couldn’t leave. So he went to Bridgewater State Hospital. After spending 30 days at his commitment, he was released. Three days later, he overdosed and died…

I wonder what the rate of overdose is for those who don’t go to treatment?

ADA’s are not involved in the Section 35 civil commitment process…

Civil commitment is the answer?  How scary is that?

My brother Danny never had the opportunity to go into a residential treatment facility. 

So, first your brother didn’t get adequate treatment at numerous detox centers (even though you blame him for the failures), and then didn’t get any treatment at all while at Bridgewater State Hospital?  Is “commitment” a nice way of saying “jail”?

Early on in my career I met a young man with a serious opiate addiction. His family knew my background and came to me for help. He did okay for a while but inevitably always fell back into using. He once told me that he had overdosed over 20 times… On a whim he called him one night. His friend said he would be there the next morning to take him to detox. True to his word the next morning he came banging on his door and took him to detox. He has been clean ever since.

“On a whim”?  I thought drug addicts had to be at “rock bottom” before being turned around… like how patients can’t use buprenorphine until they’ve started to detox.  And just because detox and abstinence saved this person, that doesn’t mean these treatments should be mandated for everyone else.


1/9/2015, OVERDOSE: Killer drugs next door

The median age of overdose victims is 41. And they’re not the dregs of society. They are homemakers, professionals, students and laborers.

Yeah, since the overdose victims are no longer just the “dregs of society,” we must now pay attention, right?  That’s just… rude and tacky.


4/5/2014, Massachusetts: 4 months and 185 heroin deaths

Heroin overdoses are on the rise in Massachusetts, fueled by its relatively cheap price and high potency. Police suspect some heroin has been laced with the prescription painkiller fentanyl, making it especially dangerous… State police say 185 people died from suspected heroin overdoses in Massachusetts from November through Feb. 26, a figure that does not include overdose deaths in the state’s three largest cities. The number of all opioid-related deaths, which includes heroin, OxyContin and other prescription pain relievers, increased from 363 in 2000 to 642 in 2011, the most recent year for which statewide figures were available.

Patrick’s emergency order, announced March 27, will allow first responders to carry the overdose drug Narcan and make the antidote more accessible by prescription to family and friends of people battling addiction. Massachusetts health officials say the state’s Narcan nasal spray distribution program has stopped more than 2,000 overdoses since 2007. The governor said his administration will dedicate an additional $20 million for addiction and recovery services. State lawmakers passed a 911 Good Samaritan law in 2012 to provide limited immunity from arrest or prosecution for minor drug law violations for people who call for medical help for themselves or others who have overdosed.

Click to access overdoseresponsestrategies.pdf

Opioid Overdose Response Strategies in Massachusetts, April 2014

Overdose is a common experience among opioid users…  

Seriously?  If it was so common, and since so many millions of Americans take opioids, wouldn’t the overdose rates be a lot higher than they are now?  In fact, it sure would be nice for someone to calculate the percentage of people who take opioids and the number of people who overdose — just on opioids, as well as with a combination of other drugs.  Is it safer to take opioids or to be treated at a hospital?  Is it safer to take opioids or to drive your car every day?

In the future, will we have to take out separate insurance coverage if we want to take drugs that may cause addiction or overdose?

If government desires to be a more trustworthy organization, then it should stop lying.  (And being hypocrites.)

On Thursday, March 27, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in
Massachusetts in response to the growing opioid addiction epidemic.

Well, the PDMP in Massachusetts appears to be the program that’s been around the longest. So, what do you think, is it working?

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