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Mayor Walsh guides mayors through Boston's response to opioid crisis

June 26, 2017

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Walsh presented the "Actions to Address Substance Use Disorders in America's Cities" toolkit to mayors and policymakers.

Mayor Walsh talks about Boston's opioid crisis response at the US conference of mayors
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today guided mayors around the country in innovative approaches to the national opioid epidemic at this weekend's 85th US Conference of Mayors being held in Miami Beach, FL.

At the conference today, Mayor Walsh presented the "Actions to Address Substance Use Disorders in America's Cities" toolkit to mayors and policymakers. The toolkit created by Boston's Mayor's Office of Recovery Services, provides resources, recommendations, policies, and program solutions to help mayors respond locally to the devastating impacts of the national opioid.

As chairman of the conference's Substance Abuse, Prevention and Recovery Services task force, Mayor Walsh also learned how to issue Narcan® (naloxone) and share examples from much of the nation-leading work that the City of Boston has undertaken to address the opioid crisis, dating back to 1978 when Boston EMS paramedics first began administering the overdose reversal drug.

"Given the gridlock in Washington, it is crucial for municipal leaders to drive this issue forward. We must be a strong voice for those who are struggling," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "Together with our state, federal, non-profit and private sector partners, we have begun implementing solutions that are making a real difference in the lives of those battling addiction."

Addressing the epidemic of addiction has been one of Mayor Walsh's top priorities, which led him to create the first-ever municipal-based Mayor's Office of Recovery Services in 2015. Since then, Boston has more than doubled staff at the City's access to care program, created the City's first 24/7 recovery support hotline through 311, and added a street outreach team in heavily impacted areas.

The City has long been a leader in Narcan® use and overdose prevention. The city's health department, the BPHC, began offering civilian trainings in overdose prevention and Narcan® in 2006, offering guidance to active users, friends and families, those who are more likely to encounter a heroin user who has overdosed before an ambulance can arrive. BPHC staff has trained more than 10,000 people on how to spot an overdose and administer Narcan® last year alone. In 2014, Mayor Walsh announced that all first responders in the City of Boston would be trained to administer and carry Narcan®.

Through collaboration with EMS, BPD, BFD, BPHC, Boston 311, and other municipal departments, the City of Boston offers a comprehensive set of innovative approaches to treating substance use disorders and combating the national opioid epidemic.

"Addictions to Address Substance Use Disorders in America's Cities: A Toolkit for Mayors and Policy Makers" can be found online at

About the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services

The Mayor's Office of Recovery Services is the first-ever municipal-based office to focus on this issue. The Office of Recovery Services works to improve existing addiction and recovery services and create a continuum of high quality services, help families and those fighting addiction navigate the city's available resources, and work with City Departments, community partners and the recovery community to support a comprehensive response to substance use disorders.

About the Boston Public Health Commission

The Boston Public Health Commission, the country's oldest health department, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston.

Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of our mission - to protect, preserve, and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Commission's more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Recovery Services; and Emergency Medical Services.