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$1-Million Grant Awarded for Opioid Programs

The federal Department of Justice this month awarded the Worcester County District Attorney's Office and the Milford-based Regional Substance Navigation Program a $1,092,869 grant to expand opioid abuse prevention, intervention and treatment services. The Regional Substance Navigation Program currently includes Milford, Bellingham, Hopedale, Medway and Upton.

Programs to be funded by the grant – awarded after a national competition for the funding – will "make it easier for the people of greater Milford to access the services they need," District Attorney Joseph Early said. "This is a program that we hope can be and will be replicated through the rest of Worcester County."

The partnership between the District Attorney's Office and the Regional Substance Navigation Program includes plans to establish a new, free-standing resource recovery center in Milford.

"This is an exciting program and the DA's office is happy join our partners within the greater Milford area," Early said. "This collaboration of police departments and mental health providers will help people dealing with addiction to access services."

Amy Leone, head of Community Impact Inc., said the grant application for the resource center originally was written for a state grant and was converted – with Early's office – into a federal grant application.

Leone thanked local government officials, police

departments, state legislators and area police chiefs for supporting efforts over the past 16 years to fight substance abuse. This regional approach is what led to the funding, she noted.

"This will enable us to reach further," she said.

The resource recovery center will be centrally located in the downtown Milford area, Leone said.

"Our hope is that we can advance the cause," Police Chief Michael Pighetti said. "We want to reach out to other communities in Worcester County through the District Attorney's Office." Pighetti added, "We hope this will be a national model."

Over the last 16 years, the Milford Police Department, in partnership with Community Impact Inc., established a sustainable regional coalition called the Juvenile Advocacy Group. Over the last three years, the partners created the Regional Substance Navigation Program to address the impact of the opioid epidemic. The program has seen a reduction in overdose deaths and a significant increase in people who are reaching

out for support prior to experiencing an overdose. "Addicts don't need prosecution and incarceration,"

State Representative Brian Murray, D. Milford said. "They need counsel and support." He continued, "This opioid crisis knows no boundaries, no class distinctions."

In a meeting with the Milford Board of Selectmen on October 7 to discuss the grant, Leone said there were 105 opioid-related overdoses and 10 deaths last year in Milford. As of October 1 of this year, there are 62 overdoses and two deaths. "We're doing better," she said. In the past four months, her 11-peson staff has counseled more than 260

people, Leone said.

Chairman William Buckley thanked Leone for her "years of tireless effort." "You've helped an incredible amount of people," Selectmen William Kingkade said. "You truly, truly do care," Selectman Michael Walsh said.




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