I am a graduate student in the master of social work program at Bridgewater State University and a resident of Easton. As a member of this community, I have exposed to the harmful consequences of opioids and drug-related deaths and I think that Easton should offer public Narcan trainings and more prescription drop box locations.

In 2015, Massachusetts had surpassed the national average of opioid-related deaths. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public health, one person died in 2012 and just four years later, this number increased to eight deaths in 2016. Nurses within the Easton Public school system were approved, in 2015, to purchase Narcan and carry it within each school. The school nurses compare having Narcan on-hand to carrying Epi-pens, it is better to be prepared than not.

There is also only one prescription opioid drop box in Easton, 46 Lothrop Street, which is the Easton Police Station. Having only one drop box means it is not always accessible to everyone. And there is only one other within the surrounding towns, located in Brockton.

In 2015, I volunteered with the nurse at the middle school, where I had to write a letter that was sent home with students, informing them about the nurses and how they were now carrying Narcan. It was important for the parents to know about Narcan, because opioid use at the time, was a more parent-centered issue, although it has spread to younger ages because prescription opioids are so accessible. As a social worker, the epidemic has greatly been affecting the younger populations, where many children are being left parentless and in the foster system.

With the increase in opioid-related deaths it would greatly beneficial to the public to be trained in how to administer Narcan. Yes, the nurses are trained, but they only work within one system of Easton. Having more members of the community trained could prevent more deaths in other areas of the community and keep more families together.

In doing research, I had no idea that Easton had a drop box. I got my wisdom teeth removed two years ago and was prescribed way more oxy pills for the pain and didn’t end up taking any of them. I still have them. I think that Easton should bring more awareness to the drop box by posting information in community areas, for example, the high school. Expanding more boxes would also expand the accessibility of getting rid of excess prescription opioids. This solution would help to lessen the intent to illegally sell and distribute prescription opiates to younger populations.

I really believe that education, prevention, and awareness are the keys to ending the epidemic. Drug abuse doesn’t just affect the abuser’s life, but also their families. I think both of these solutions would help those suffering with an addiction.

Meghan Tarpey, Foundry Street