Many lives are touched by opioid use and addiction, which can wreak havoc on the lives of users and their families.
A monthly drop-in center to provide support services and resources for those struggling with opioid use and addiction and their loved ones will meet for the first time from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 22 at Pilgrim United Church, 634 Purchase St.
Members of the Greater New Bedford Opioid Task Force discussed the logistics of the center and the important role it plays in the community at a media event Wednesday, June 21 at New Bedford Police headquarters.
Mayor Jon Mitchell described the issue of opioid use and abuse as “the number one public health problem in the city.’’
The center is “a place to go to get help,’’ said Mayor Jon Mitchell.
People struggling with addiction should be treated with respect and compassion and not be stigmatized, he said. The task force is part of the city’s outreach to care for its own residents, he said. “This is our problem,’’ he said. “These are our families, our friends.’’
The drop-in center will provide resources, support services, referrals and Narcan training and distribution, among other offerings. Monthly meetings of the task force are scheduled. Refreshments will be served.
Chief Joseph Cordeiro praised members of the task force, which represents a variety of organizations and agencies in the area, for their caring hearts, dedication and resolve to help people in our community.
The need for support services such as the center is “unprecedented,’’ said Dr. Michael Rocha of Physicians To Prevent Opioid Abuse. “We have the power to make this community a beacon of change,’’ he said. “No community would be more appropriate to turn the tide than New Bedford, the city by the sea.’’
To speak with someone in confidence about opioid use and addiction, call (508) 993-6242, ext. 127.
The task force is chaired by New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro and co-chaired by Dr. Michael Rocha.
Other task force members are: Office of New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, New Bedford Police Department, New Bedford School Department, City of New Bedford Office of Community Services, American Addiction Centers, Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, Seven Hills Behavioral Health, Bristol County District Attorney’s office, Rev. David Lima, Inter-Church Council of Greater New Bedford, Fishing Partnership Support Services, Child and Family Services, Carney Family Foundation, Third District Court drug court, CleanSlate Center, Southcoast Health, Positive Action Against Chemical Addiction, High Point, Learn to Cope, Rev. Scott Ciosek, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church; Edwin Cartagena, United New Bedford, Physicians to Prevent Opioid Abuse, Hawthorn Medical and individual community members.