WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2014

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/359840

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Page 110 of 219

any kind, the Sheehans set out to change that loophole. First they developed a wallet size card that listed all the warning signs of a possi- ble overdose, which were distributed at various schools. They realized, however, that no one would call 911 for fear of prosecution. Working closely with State Representative Peisch and Chief Cunningham over a ten-year period, the Sheehans crafted the Good Samaritan law, one of the first in the nation. The law states that if someone in good faith calls emergency services for a companion, even if the caller has been using a controlled substance, or is in possession of illegal drugs or is underage, that person is immune from prosecution. "They put a lot of time and energy into attempting to effect change so no one would have to go through what they did," says Alice Peisch. "They chose to do some- thing positive to correct what they saw as a flaw in our laws, instead of just running away from the problem." The law was passed in 2012 and is already saving lives. In addition to the Good Samaritan law, law enforcement now has another powerful tool in its arsenal against accidental death due to drugs. NARCAN, administered as nasal spray, has the potential to reverse a potentially lethal overdose in minutes. Its availability has saved hundreds of lives across the Commonwealth. The Wellesley and Weston Police departments both have NARCAN available for use in emergencies. "It's a band aid," says Vic DiGravio. "It is a powerful first step, but a person still needs access to treatment." And for those who need rehab or addiction services, there is a large gap between supply and demand. "There is a tremendous unmet need for more services," says DiGravio, "we still aren't keeping up with demand." A drug problem is more than a family problem: it is a community problem. But in towns like Wellesley or Weston, outward emblems of success can mask real world problems embedded in families. "Perfectionism is going to be the death of us," says Andrew Keough when pondering the unwillingness of some residents to share stories of less than perfect kids, jobs, or marriages. Dr. Joseph Strand fears that lingering prejudice and stigma imbues the topic of drug abuse with shame. "The more we can move away from the idea that addiction is tied up in morality," he says, "the more likely we are to be able to help those who need it the most. We need to learn as a society to be up front about it, that it's okay for people to talk about it, that it's okay for schools to admit that drugs are in their schools, that it's okay for a town to admit drugs are in their town. Hiding from it reinforces the idea that it's a moral issue and that reinforces the idea that drug users are not us, the drug users are them." 109 Bad Habits f a l l 2 0 1 4 | W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e ( C O N T I N U E D F R O M P A G E 1 0 4 ) the good samaritan law Save A Life: Call 911 Help spread the word: there is no prosecution for anyone calling emergency services in good faith about a companion who is in medical trouble from drugs or alcohol, even if the caller has been using drugs or alcohol, has drugs or alcohol in their possession, or is under age. People, especially teenagers and young adults, should know that the police and EMTs want to help. Help a friend: call 911. This law saves lives.

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