Island towns consider pooling opioid settlement money

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-MV Times

The Vineyards’ boards of health are looking to work together to fund a countywide substance use disorder coordinator position, using money made available through federal settlements with several pharmaceutical companies.

Massachusetts is slated to receive more than $900 million to assist in addressing the harms caused by the opioid epidemic. While 60 percent of that money will go to the state’s Opioid Recovery and Remediation Funds, the other 40 percent will be allocated to municipalities throughout the commonwealth. 

In the past, the coordinator position has been funded by towns’ free cash; by pooling the opioid abatement funds, which currently amount to over $100,000, Vineyard towns yield the financial burden of paying for the resources with taxpayer dollars. The settlement payouts will continue to be allocated to municipalities throughout the country on an annual basis. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports there were more than 2,300 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in 2022 — an increase of roughly 60 from the prior year, and 9 percent higher than in 2016. Six individuals died on the Vineyard in that year, one of the highest totals over the past 10 years. 

According to the guidelines for expenditure of the settlement recoveries laid out by the state, municipalities are to “incorporate community input from those directly affected by the opioid epidemic[,] address service disparities to increase access and equity in treatment and services for OUD, prevention and harm reduction relating to opiates[, and] leverage existing state, city, town, and community opiate use disorder, mental health disorder, and behavioral health disorder programming and services.”

Once the joint funding program receives support from all six towns’ boards of health, the county will return to the town managers for approval to move forward. The Islands’ boards will meet jointly on Jan. 11. 

9 COMMENTS

  1. Can we please stop with the whole “substance use disorder” foolishness? I know it’s done as part of the whole softening of Americans and their problems, but as someone who struggled with addiction for pretty close to half my life, I can tell you from first hand experience, there is nothing soft or kind about addiction.

  2. “the joint funding program” ? In an article about substance
    abuse? it’s just too ironic of a play on words to not comment on
    it. All in good fun taking a poke at the powers that be of course.

  3. Who’s in charge of the “joint funding program” ? Citizens directly affected by addiction? According to the article: According to the guidelines for expenditure of the settlement recoveries laid out by the state, municipalities are to “incorporate community input from those directly affected by the opioid epidemic[,] address service disparities to increase access and equity in treatment and services for OUD, prevention and harm reduction relating to opiates

    My question is. Will there be town meetings to hear from those directly affected? Will there be testimony of experiences so that moving forward the safety of addicted individuals and family members are afforded safe places to be honest and be offered a plan to move forward for the whole family?

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