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Boston area fights opiate problem

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The town of Beverly has identified a spot in the community where IV drug users congregate and shoot up.
The area behind a Walgreens drug store on the corner of Rantoul and Elliot Streets has been noted by neighbors who have been finding a steady supply of used hypodermic needles. City officials have vowed to step up surveillance of the area and Walgreens management has been approached to add lighting and possibly security cameras. This may serve to end the use of this area as a shooting gallery but the addicts will only move elsewhere.

Results from a larger scale effort were announced yesterday by representatives from health plan Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Recognizing that prescription opiates such as Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin are serving as gateway drugs for Heroin, the health insurer implemented a prescription monitoring program 18 months ago in an attempt to reduce the problem.The changes implemented in July 2012 have reduced prescriptions by 20 percent for common opioids such as Percocet and 50 percent for longer-lasting drugs such as OxyContin, Under the new guidelines, patients are now allowed up to two 15 day prescriptions before the prescription is reviewed by health plan specialists.

Recently a client related to me an experience she had with medical providers. She had undergone painful surgery and received a prescription for Vicodin. She had a bad reaction to the medicine so returned to her prescriber and asked for another type of painkiller, such as Percocet. She asked that the prescriber take back the unused portion of the original Vicodin prescription. Not only did the prescriber refuse to take back the almost full bottle of Vicodin, a 30 day supply, but the client was provided with a new prescription for 30 days of Percocet. She returned home and sold the Vicodin, as she was in need of cash. This is often how these drugs end up on the street.

One way to get some of these drugs off the streets is National Drug Give Back Day April 26. Drop boxes are in the lobbies of most local police stations. Massachusetts political leaders including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced their support for this program on Monday.

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