^ it’s personal to him ; Mayor Walsh goes all out against substance abuse in the city

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If there’s one thing that newly installed Mayor Marty Walsh is doing really, really right, it’s his all-out attack on the scourge of substance abuse. A new policy paper issued by Walsh’s office tells the whole story, in this link :

It’s hardly a new issue for Walsh. It is personal for him. He himself is a recovered substance abuser, and, at the very first “Mondays With Marty” that I attended, way back in mid-summer of his Mayor campaign, he made a statement that stuck with me : “there is heroin epidemic in Boston .”

I believed him because he had seen it.

We all know that substance abuse threatens to overwhelm communities; to snuff out many, many lives; to disable many more; to make employment difficult and family life all but impossible; and, thus, to over-burden the state’s already overtaxed DCF agency.

Make no mistake : you don’t like how DCF has been doing its job ? Then do something about our State’s substance abuse epidemic. Because until that wave is conquered, DCf will have far more families to intervene with than it can handle on the best of days.

Mayor Walsh has taken several worthy steps, as set forth in the link above, including equipping all first responders with the overdose antidote known as Narcan; holding drug abuse forums in neighborhoods across the city; and sponsoring take-backs of expired medicines. all that is needed now is for the public to know about them. Very few people attended a recent substance abuse forum in Jackson Square that I was at, and the people who did attend seemed more community activists than abusers or family members of abusers.

the people who need to be reached don’t easily come go substance abuse forums…

Still, the push back against substance abuse has started now. To that push I would recommend to Mayor Walsh the following initiatives :

1.make sure that substance abuse info forums are well publicized, on social media and with copious fliers at street level with DCF, so that the families most impacted by substance abuse can receive help from city health workers as well as from DCF people

3.just as Mayor Kevin White hired Youth Workers, to meet with youth in socially vulnerable neighborhoods and support them, hire neighborhood workers specific briefed to intervene in the lives of drug abusers and their families — it being as much a public health problem as a public safety issue all these efforts with the City’s public school staffs.

5.expand, promote, and support city sports programs. it’s my experience that kids involved in sports are less likely to take a bad path

6.because substance abuse isn’t only a youth issue — many abusers are 25 to 40 years old, co-ordinate intervention and outreach initiatives with neighborhood health centers, churches and mosques, community houses, and gyms.

7.Regularly convene meetings of the top staffs of all the institutions and organizations I’ve mentioned, to exchange ideas and to report both progress and failures.

Winning the fight against substance abuse will take many, many years of all-out commitment by many, many organizations as well as concerned citizens. I probably shouldn’t even say ‘winning,’ because the problem is world wide and cannot be extinguished by efforts merely local. But a sustained and ubiquitous local effort can definitely cut the substance abuse epidemic way, way back within one committed city.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere