By THOR JOURGENSEN
REVERE — The city is stepping up its fight to end drug addiction by taking a multi-prong approach to opioid abuse and outlawing synthetic marijuana.
This week’s public forum highlighted work by the city Substance Use Disorder Initiatives Office. During the past year, the office has sought to coordinate all of the city’s substance abuse-fighting efforts under one roof.
The office expanded “drop-in center” hours allowing residents struggling with addiction or their family members to confidentially talk with health professionals, recovery coaches and public safety officials.
It is continuing the work of the city outreach team, combining police and fire department efforts to connect residents who have recently experienced an overdose with resources that can help.
The office has convened monthly leadership team meetings bringing together government, education, healthcare, treatment and recovery office and agency representatives to help guide the office’s work.
“While much has been accomplished, there is still much work to do,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “I am committed to providing the resources and support necessary to make this work successful.”
Office outreach workers estimate 87 lives were saved locally using the overdose reversal drug Narcan, and many more lives were indirectly aided by outreach workers helping connect residents with treatment and recovery programs.
The Substance Use Disorder Initiatives Office is located at 437 Revere St., and can be reached at [email protected] or (781) 629-4158.
The office’s goals for the next year include strengthening addiction-fighting efforts by bringing multiple social service agencies and government office representative to the table once a week to make plans to intervene and provide assistance to residents with high risk of harm from addiction.
Using Partnership for Success grant money, office representatives will identify opportunities to work with and educate Revere youth to prevent future drug use.
That effort will be matched by a push to increase social media presence on addiction prevention and creating an advertising campaign that gets into coffee shops, restaurants, health care providers and convenience stores to make sure residents who may be in need of services know what is available.
At Arrigo’s request the Board of Health voted Tuesday to ban the sale of synthetic cannabinoids — also known as “synthetic marijuana,” “K2,” “spice,” or bath salts — as dangerous substances.
Synthetic marijuana does not actually contain marijuana. Synthetic marijuana refers to a number of plants sprayed with chemicals. According to a mayor’s office statement, potential synthetic marijuana side effects include violent and aggressive behavior, rapid heartbeat, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, confusion, headaches and seizures.
State Rep. RoseLee Vincent told health board members that “products containing synthetic marijuana cause dangerous and irrational behaviors by people who ingest them.”
The city of Boston banned the sale of synthetic cannabinoids last year, and numerous states and cities are considering bans as well.