Notification bill framed as life-saver in opioid fight



Sen. Cindy Friedman, an Arlington Democrat and co-chairwoman of the committee, asked whether the legislation would conflict with federal health care privacy laws.

Rep. Josh Cutler, a Duxbury Democrat who sponsored the bill (H 4497), said that because the notification would relate to an adjudicatory finding, the federal health privacy laws would not be invoked.

Rep. Denise Garlick, a Needham Democrat and co-chairwoman of the committee, expressed “deep sympathy” to Berry while also noting that it would be “very difficult” to pass such a bill with only two months left before the end of formal sessions.

The powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl was found in 85 percent of the Massachusetts opioid overdose deaths in 2017 where a toxicology analysis was available, and there were 2,016 confirmed and suspected overdose deaths last year, according to the Department of Public Health.

Lawmakers have supported other efforts to provide treatment to people suffering from addiction even if they do not want it. A bill (H 4470) supported by House members of the Mental Health committee would allow medical professionals to hold people with dangerous addictions for three days of involuntary addiction treatment.


After a detox, people addicted to opioids are at heightened risk of an overdose, according to medical professionals.

On Tuesday, Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins showcased a new unit in the House of Correction that provides intensive addiction recovery treatment to pre-trial detainees.

Stephen’s addiction stemmed from a wrist injury from dirt-biking, according to Soper, his uncle.

“He broke his wrist and a doctor gave him a big bottle of Oxycontins,” said Berry. After Stephen became addicted, drug dealers would sometimes show up at the house demanding thousands of dollars, his father said.

“He was involved and had some of the baddest people in the world after him. I didn’t sleep for months,” Berry told reporters.


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