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What You Need to Know about Recent Legislation on Opioids

Last week Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker signed legislation that was a landmark decision in response to the nation-wide opioid overdose and addiction crisis. He not only implemented important change and compromise but also began to change the conversation surrounding the topic of opioid prescribing and its consequences.

Here is what you need to know about the legislation.

Help for Patients Treated for Overdose

The state’s new legislation requires hospital patients who are treated for overdose in emergency rooms to receive abuse evaluation within 24 hours and to be given options for treatment they can pursue once they are discharged.

Limit on Prescribed Supply

The other important component to the law Baker signed into place is the limit on prescribed supply of opioids. Writers of the prescriptions will only be able to prescribe a 7-day supply of the drugs at a time to patients. The benefit of this restriction is that patients won’t end up needing to store opioids for very great lengths of time because the chances of them having “left-over” drugs will decrease.

In other words and as Raymond Tamasi—president and CEO of Gosnold on Cape Cod, a full service addiction program offering inpatient, rehabilitation, residential, partial, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment—said, “It gets us away from the situation where a patient goes in for a tooth extraction and ends up with a month’s worth of Vicodin.”

New Training Initiatives

The final parts of the groundbreaking legislation are about education. Provisions in the law include new training initiatives for people with jobs in both law enforcement and healthcare. Additionally, the law mandates that drug prevention policies be adopted into local school districts and that assesses be performed on the risk for substance abuse among students.

Going Forward

While Governor Baker’s legislative act is a watershed movement, the solution to the unfortunate opioid crisis will need to be continually broadened. Individuals suffering from opioid overdose and addiction will need community support in order to be able to have lasting recovery.

Gosnold On Cape Code is continuing to take steps forward in this regard as it is working with police departments and other law enforcement agencies, helping them shift their approach to tackling this issue. One effort presently being made is that recovery specialists are meeting with addicts and their families in their homes, approaching them about options for treatment. Furthermore, the addiction treatment organization has already placed addiction specialists in two hospitals’ emergency rooms, hoping to set a precedent for all hospitals state-wide.

To learn more about this monumental step in combating our nation’s opioid crisis, watch a video and read a news report on Mass.Gov.

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