WILMINGTON, MA – “Alarming.” That’s how Town Manager Jeff Hull describes the number of drug overdoses in Wilmington last year.
In 2015, the Wilmington Fire Department responded to 8 fatal drug overdoses and nearly 70 calls that were “overdose related.”
“At the present rate of increases,” says Hull, “Wilmington will be grappling with an overdose a week and an overdose related fatality every month.”
While Hull praises the Fire Department and its use of narcan, the Police Department and its community policing model, and the work being done by the School Department, Veterans Services, Elderly Services and the Health Department to support the victims of drug abuse, he realizes more needs to be done.
As a result, Hull is hoping to fund new substance abuse prevention and support programs in Wilmington, recognizing the town needs to make a long-term commitment to addressing the issue.
“The funding will be used to provide resources to triage victims into the appropriate treatment and to provide families of victims with the support and advice they need to work with their loved ones,” explains Hull. “The funding will also support educational services focused on prevention and awareness… likely delivered by a partnering organization who has the broad critical and social service experience that meets the needs of Wilmington’s families.”
Hull dedicates $80,000 to these programs in his proposed FY17 town budget, which would go into effect on July 1 after voter approval at Wilmington’s Annual Town Meeting on April 30.
The town’s recently formed Substance Abuse Coalition, consisting of representatives from the school system, the police department, the fire department, public health, veterans services, elderly services, and the community, will build upon its good work from 2015.
Coalition members will continue to “communicate about emerging issues and assist known victims, guide the development of prevention and support groups, and to connect those in need with direct services,” according to Hull.
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