New England Governors Unite To Battle Heroin Addiction

By Shawn Dwyer 06/23/14

Five of six New England governors—all Democrats—attended the summit. Absent was Republican Gov. Paul LePage of Maine.

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On Tuesday last week, five governors from six New England states heeded the call of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to address the growing heroin epidemic plaguing the region.

Governor Patrick has been notably active in trying to lead the fight against opioid addiction in his state, recently revealing a $20 million package aimed at increasing drug treatment, particularly for children, in Massachusetts. In publicly unveiling his plan, Patrick invited the governors of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to join him in a summit to address the problem.

The governors of the first five states accepted the invitation and agreed, among other things, to share data across state lines regarding prescriptions while trying to crack down on patients that obtain drugs from multiple doctors.

“We’re saying the sky’s the limit,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who rose to national prominence earlier in the year for delivering an entire state of the state address on drug addiction. “Let’s treat it like the public health crisis it is.”

Notably absent from the summit was Republican governor and Tea Partier Paul R. LePage, who was allegedly too busy working in the state capital of Augusta, Maine to attend the summit. Patrick did mention, however, that LePage would send a working group to participate in future meetings.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.