Representative Crocker delivers maiden speech on opioid epidemic

State Representative Will Crocker, R-Centerville, delivered his maiden speech before a full formal session of the Massachusetts House of Representatives on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Representative Crocker spoke in favor of H.4725, An Act for Prevention and Access to Appropriate Care and Treatment of Addiction, which was engrossed by the House in a unanimous vote.

Representative Crocker delivers maiden speech on opioid epidemic

BOSTON – State Representative Will Crocker, R-Centerville, delivered his maiden speech before a full formal session of the Massachusetts House of Representatives on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. Representative Crocker spoke in favor of H.4725, An Act for Prevention and Access to Appropriate Care and Treatment of Addiction, which was engrossed by the House in a unanimous vote.

Representative Crocker focused his speech on the 2nd Barnstable District, citing that in every city and town across the Commonwealth the opioid death rate has gone down except in the towns of Barnstable and Yarmouth. “While I was campaigning in the summer of 2016, walking neighborhoods, I recall, vividly, meeting three separate families in one day alone who were just returning from wakes of people who had suffered fatal overdoses. This epidemic was crystalized for me when I met those families.” Further highlighting the severity of the issue, Representative Crocker stated, “From 2010 to 2016, the rate of opioid related deaths in Massachusetts tripled from 11% to 33%.”

In his speech, Representative Crocker advocated for a focus on prevention programs. “Keeping a member of our community from starting down this dark path is much easier than helping guide them off of it.” Representative Crocker referred to the successes of tobacco education in the 1980s and suggested that the legislature look into producing a similar education-based prevention program in schools to help reduce the number of opioid-related deaths.

House Bill 4725 places new mandates on practitioners and pharmacies prescribing opioids and other controlled substances, while taking steps to ensure qualified treatment facilities are available to serve those in need by enhancing the regulatory and licensing authority of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Department of Public Health (DPH). Additionally, the bill would require hospitals and emergency facilities to refer patients who receive an evaluation to an appropriate and available treatment provider, or to provide treatment within the facility if adequate services are available on site. However, patients have the right to refuse further treatment.

The bill now moves to the Senate for further action.