DA Early to host award-winning author to discuss opioid epidemic

WORCESTER — Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. will be hosting a virtual event on April 15 with award-winning author Sam Quinones to discuss the opioid epidemic.

Mr. Quinones will discuss the current state of the opioid epidemic, including the illicit drug market, the lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies, and the stigma that still persists around the disease of addiction.

“Sam is a national expert on opioids and addiction and this discussion will provide invaluable insight on the current state of affairs and what we can all be doing to help those struggling with substance use disorder,” Mr. Early said.

The author previously visited Worcester County in 2017 at the invitation of Mr. Early to discuss his book, “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” which detailed the rise of the opioid epidemic in America. This talk will focus on his research beyond “Dreamland,” which was published in 2015.

The event on April 15, which will feature a discussion between Mr. Early and Mr. Quinones, will be held virtually on Zoom and is open to the public. The talk begins at 1 p.m. and will include a public question period. For registration information, contact Elisabeth.Haddad@mass.gov.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the continued need to work on the opioid epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control reported 81,000 overdose deaths in a 12-month period ending May 2020, the largest in a year-long period ever recorded. Locally, the most-recent numbers from Massachusetts show 2,020 overdose deaths statewide in 2019, including 267 in Worcester County. Mr. Early has been passionately committed to addressing the opioid epidemic. In 2015, he formed the Central Mass. Opioid Task Force, which is now more than 600 members strong. Since then, he’s obtained multiple federal and state grants to work with partners across the county and support local interventions for those suffering from substance use disorder. He’s funded Narcan for first responders, prescription drop boxes in local police departments, school prevention programs to teach students the dangers of drugs, and expanded drug diversion programs in county courts. Last year, Mr. Early’s office purchased and launched the use of Critical Incident Management Systems (CIMS) software to help police track overdose incidents and get victims into treatment.

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