The Commonwealth is in the midst of opioid epidemic. The number of confirmed cases of unintentional opioid overdose deaths for 2015 (n=1531) represents an 18% increase over 2014 (n=1294), and the2014 number (n=1294) represents a 41% increase over cases for 2013 (n=918). In February 2015, Governor Baker charged an 18-member working group with developing specific, actionable recommendations to address and respond to the opioid epidemic crisis. The workgroup established a set of 65 recommendations to address the crisis across various sectors on critical substance use disorder touch points. Specifics of the Governor’s Opioid Work Group plan can be found at www.mass.gov/stopaddiction. The availability of treatment resources is a critical part of any effective response to the epidemic of opioid addiction in Massachusetts. Similar to other chronic conditions, family-based supports are a necessary piece of the continuum to support and educate loved ones impacted by this ongoing opioid epidemic. The Department of Public Health / Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (DPH/BSAS), in response to the recommendations developed by the Governor’s Opioid Working Group, is seeking to provide a range of services, including support and education for parents and caregivers of individuals with a history drug and/or alcohol use with an emphasis on the current opioid epidemic.
Facing and coping with the impact of a child’s opioid use is a spiritually and emotionally challenging experience for any parent/caregiver. As is true for many chronic conditions, finding and connecting with others who have had similar lived experiences is often an empowering piece of ending the stigma and isolation many families feel about a child who may have a substance use disorder. For some families, knowing they are not alone can be a key difference in maintaining hope. Currently the Bureau is seeking to fund one organization to offer family support, training for volunteer opportunities, and overdose prevention training for families impacted by the current opioid epidemic, however, if additional funds become available it is possible the Bureau would consider funding additional organizations. The selected vendor will develop the infrastructure, staffing pattern, and training and supervision mechanisms necessary to oversee a statewide network of community-based, family peer support meetings, an online support presence, the work of parent volunteers, and efforts to educate stakeholders on the needs of families dealing with substance use.