NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — The South Coast region of Massachusetts has been chosen by the New England division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for a new program to tackle the growing epidemic of opioid abuse and violent crime associated with dealing the drugs illegally.
The DEA’s new plan of attack, dubbed its “360 Degree Strategy,” features a three-fold approach, according to Brian Boyle, the Special Agent in Charge for the DEA New England division:
- Enforcement will target drug dealers in the neighborhoods.
- Diversion Control will push drug makers, distributors and pharmacists to use more care in giving highly addictive opioids to patients.
- Community Outreach will educate the public about the latest trends in prescription drug and heroin abuse, and encourage people to get treatment when needed.
The all-encompassing mindset brings agencies together after they were dealing with drug issues separately.
“We have to vigorously continue to work on the most effective ways to talk about these programs in ways we’ve never done before in order to stop abuse, addiction and to save lives,” Boyle said.
“The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities in Massachusetts, bringing with it drug addiction and a staggering number of overdose deaths,” added Andrew Lelling, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.
The government encourages parents, educators and children to learn about what drugs can do by visiting the DEA’s interactive websites through the “Wake Up South Coast” portal.