Last year, 64,000 Americans were killed by opioids, more than gun violence and AIDS. The War on Drugs, a series of ill-conceived laws and policies which cost the country over $50 billion, has failed.  It’s time to rethink the way we grapple with drug use and drug addiction, in particular in Massachusetts.

This epidemic sprouted from a legitimate medical effort. The researchers who developed the drugs and the doctors who prescribed them were trying to lessen the burden of chronic pain for many people. I appreciate that effort. However it went terribly wrong when the opportunity for enormous profit for the pharmaceutical companies collided with a  lack of regulation and accountability. The industry misled doctors and encouraged over prescription. They created an epidemic of addiction and a new market for illicit drugs.

A majority of opioid abusers began as patients recovering from surgery or with chronic pain who were legally prescribed medication and fell into addiction. We must remember that all  those suffering with addiction are medical patients, not criminals. This epidemic has hit all communities across the country and focused us on a problem which has existed in other forms for generations in poor communities of color.  These people need treatment not incarceration.

We must provide reliable and effective treatment options where people can stay near their families and support systems.   We should keep people safe and support them as they struggle to overcome their addiction.
And we should hold accountable the pharmaceutical companies who profited from the overuse of these drugs.


The opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug epidemic in American history.



  • Expand wellness clinics across the state so people can be treated close to home.
  • Establish Safe Injection Sites so everyone in need has access
  • Continue  access to support services after 30 days if needed by a patient.
  • Support the Attorney General’s efforts to  hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable  for the epidemic
  • Review and rate treatment clinics and services  and aid the Attorney General in prosecuting sham service operations
  • Expand mental health services particularly for addiction services
Since 1999, opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled and opioid prescriptions have increased markedly – almost enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of pills. Yet the amount of pain reported by Americans has not changed. Now, nearly 2 million people in America have a prescription opioid use disorder, contributing to increased heroin use and the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.
— Vivik Murty, U.S. Surgeon General