WILMINGTON, MA – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan spoke to Wilmington seniors recently as part of her county-wide initiative to raise awareness about the risks and impacts of the opioid crisis for seniors.
The presentation was part of the District Attorney’s grandparent opioid program, which educates seniors in Middlesex County about how to manage their prescription medication, keep medication safe from theft, properly dispose of unused or expired medication and identify signs of drug addiction in loved ones. Seniors were also given resources about programs that provide support, guidance and coaching for individuals and family members dealing with addiction.
District Attorney Ryan was joined by Bill Cavanaugh, Lieutenant, Wilmington Fire Department; Terri Marciello, Director, Wilmington Council on Aging; Keriann Kilcoyne, Banyan Treatment Center; Mike McCoy, Wilmington Selectman; Michael Begonis, Chief, Wilmington Police Department; Shelly Newhouse, Wilmington Director of Public Health; and Ed Loud, Wilmington Selectman.
District Attorney Ryan, who previously chaired the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s Elder Protection Unit, has developed this program recognizing that the impact of the opioid crisis on seniors is extensive.
Approximately 34,000 grandparents in Massachusetts are raising grandchildren. According to a survey conducted by the Commission on the Status of Grandparents Raising Children, 80 percent of these cases are because of opioid use or the opioid-related death of a son or daughter. Additionally, seniors often have opioids at home, either from a prior surgery or as an active prescription for chronic pain. They can also be financially vulnerable and susceptible to pressure from family members who may approach them for money when they know they regularly receive checks.
The grandparent program provides an essential understanding of opioids, educating seniors on the origin of the problem and focusing on issues including overprescribing and prescription drug use as a gateway to heroin. The presentation also helps seniors to identify signs of a substance use disorder of which they may be otherwise unaware. Some signs seniors learned to watch for include missing items like spoons, aluminum foil, plastic sandwich bags and valuables like money and jewelry. Seniors also learned how to recognize physical, social and emotional manifestations of substance use.
This training was a part of a county-wide initiative to provide information and resources to Middlesex seniors. Addiction is a disease experienced by the entire family and children and seniors are the most vulnerable secondary victims of the opioid crisis.
(NOTE: The above press release and photo is from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.)
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