Mitchell: Short Term and Long Term Solutions Needed for Opioid Crisis
New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro acknowleged recently that opioid overdoses seem to be on the rise, which he attributes to an increase in the powerful drug fentanyl being found in street drugs such as heroin.
In his weekly appearance on WBSM, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said although the city saw a drop in overdoses from 2016 to 2017, there has been a spike in fatal overdoses, and he said no matter what, there are still far too many OD's happening. Mitchell said the opioid epidemic is a chronic problem in cities such as New Bedford.
“We have to take a short term approach as well as a long term approach,” he said. “Narcan, saving people through interdiction, getting dealers off the street. Those are immediate, front-burner solutions. The longer term solutions have to deal with education and prevention.”
Mitchell said the real solution to the issue is ensuring school-age children are informed enough that they never even think about taking opioids. He said there has been a change in the way children are instructed in New Bedford Public Schools, to help them make appropriate choices in life as they get older.
The health department in the city of Philadelphia recently suggested average citizens carry the overdose-reversal drug Narcan with them at all times, in case they need to help someone in the throes of an opioid overdose.
Mitchell said he doesn't think that plan is realistic, given the cost of Narcan, and that not everyone will be in a situation where they would need to administer it. He said he believes police officers, firefighters, EMTs and school nurses should have it, but it doesn't need to be in everyone's possession.
“My position is, the people who are around the risk that Narcan is meant to address should have Narcan. I think that’s a wise call,” he said. “For everybody, I think that’s not realistic.”
Mitchell said he does support having Narcan in schools, which he said is the case in New Bedford. He said it's mainly because there are children in the school system who come from homes where there are addiction problems, and substances could accidentally be brought into school and come into contact with students or others.