EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 22, 2014

Sheriff Cousins calls for more detox beds

(Continued)

Cousins said the heroin epidemic is the worst he has ever seen it.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” he said. “It’s one of the worst challenges we face.”

He also said addicts usually end up turning to heroin after abusing prescription drugs.

“Last week, everyone was excited over CVS not selling cigarettes anymore. Well, I wish they would stop selling as many prescription drugs as they do,” he said.

The Senate committee will review addiction “from detox to treatment” and analyze the effectiveness of the current Section 35 process, in which courts can commit an addict for up to 90 days for detox from drug addiction.

“What we’re finding is that as soon as people are detoxed, which has a physical component to it, they’re then released to go back to the communities from which they came, so we’re looking at the after-treatment and the detox system and how people are going through our system,” Leominster Sen. Jennifer Flanagan said.

Cousins said treatment needs to happen even after they detox.

“They should probably go to a halfway house afterward,” he said. “It’s a tedious process. It could take 7 to 8 months or sometimes even longer.”

“It’s a powerful drug,” he added. “It takes a grip on people.”

Some worry that the current Section 35 process only focuses on the physical side of addiction and not the emotional or psychological aspect of the disease.

“They get them clean and they’re on the street. Well, they’re right back robbing your house and your house and somebody else’s house or their own house, so this is a huge addiction problem we have,” Murray said.

Cousins said it’s not a black or white situation.

“They need to come to terms with the fact that they are an addict. That’s the first step. If they don’t want help, nothing is going to change,” he said.

Materials from State House News were used in this story.

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