Jonathan Waxler couldn’t physically be at the meeting because he died years ago of a heroin overdose in the prime of his life. But he was alive as anyone in that room on Saturday when his mother spoke about his fearlessness and his double-life as an addict with a master’s degree.

“I still hear people say, ‘It can’t happen in my family,’” said Linda Waxler at an opioid crisis forum hosted by governor candidate Setti Warren, the Democratic former mayor of Newton.

I never met Jonathan, but I know his family. Dr. Robert Waxler is an English professor at UMass-Dartmouth, while Linda is a retired public school teacher and their son, Jeremy, a defense attorney who helps addicts see the light. The Waxlers wrote a book, "Losing Jonathan," to help others going through what they went through.

New Bedford City Councilor Scott Lima told the crowd of about 50 about the kids he knew who know too much about the drugs and the needles they have seen used by family members, while Rep. Robert Koczera listened to the stories and suggested solutions.

“It’s great to talk about the problem… and discussion is good… but action is what’s needed now,” said Professor Waxler.

We need a strong plan here, like we did with the Marshall Plan to stop communism and how we control once deadly disease like polio, measles and various diseases, who were once killers.

Americans are dying and it must end. I don’t know what it will cost for a Marshall Plan to fight opioids in Massachusetts but I know it is worth every penny. Drug dealers should be treated as a threat to our national interest and removed from society.

Chris McCarthy is a talk show host on WBSM. You can hear his show from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. His opinions are solely his own.

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