Opioid/Heroin Addiction Issue
On August 10, 2015, Andover's Board of Selectmen approved two new full-time positions for the Police Department to help with the opioid/heroin addiction problem. The positions were approved on a contentious 3-2 vote. I opposed these positions and the material on this web page explains why. (Click here to read the remarks I made to the Board arguing against these two new positions or watch the video below beginning at the 26:48 minute mark.)
Subsequent to that meeting, I have gathered information on this topic. I have also met with two health teachers from the High School, the Police Chief, and Dr. Howard Shaffer, an addiction specialist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. Here are four key points:
1. Internal Task Force Findings
• A Task Force of Town and School Staff, working since January of this year, produced no data, reports, findings or recommendations to support these new positions. (Click here to see timeline of their meetings.)
2. Current Staffing
• Together, the Town and School employ 62 social workers, psychologists, health teachers, and public health professionals (about $4 million in annual payroll) who collectively should be able to fulfill the education and awareness duties of the Program Coordinator position. See chart below:
To view the document below, please click on the square in the lower right corner of the window below. You can also download it from the Source Documents page of this website.
3. Taxpayer Accountability
• The new Andover Youth Services (AYS) Program Coordinator" position was justified on the basis that it would help address this opioid/heroin addiction issue. The position was filled and is not being used for this purpose. There needs to be accountability for that.
Watch the beginning of the 4/16/2014 Board of Selectmen's meeting below. Former Selectman Major makes the case for the new AYS position by referencing the Heroin problem.
Go to the 1:12:15 mark of the 2014 Town Meeting video below to see the discussion of the AYS position. At the 1:30:26 mark, AYS Director Bill Fahey says the following in reference to the new position: "Yes it will work on heroin/opiate issues."
4. Local Government Role?
• I personally am not convinced the services suggested for the "Clinician" position should be the role of local government. Opioid/Heroin addiction is a long-standing public health issue that affects more than the Town of Andover. At a minimum, it seems that a regional approach makes more sense and this option has not yet been fully explored. Please read the Op-ed piece by Dr. Howard Shaffer in this week's Andover Townsman entitled "Andover's opiate plan may make matters worse".
Opioid Addiction Documents/Links
|Job Descriptions-Program Coordinator/Clinician Positions|
|File Size:||1866 kb|