HDAAC Receives Earmark from State

J.D. O’Gara
Issue Date: 
March, 2018
Article Body: 

HDAAC, Holliston Drug and Alcohol Awareness Coalition, has recently received a $50,000 earmark from the state to be used for substance abuse prevention.
“This was driven by Karen Spilka,” says Gina Stucchi, who said the funds were confirmed in late January, after Gov. Baker had delayed it since July. “We have until June 30th to use the funds,” she explains.
Among plans for the funds is a collaboration with the Holliston Fire Department to make sure a healthy stock of Narcan is available in town.
“There have been a lot of overdoses this year and last year, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t run the risk of not having Narcan left. We also did a Narcan training last month. Project Rise came and did a Narcan training, distributing Narcan to anyone at the meeting. We wanted to make that a regular thing, but they’re not able to come out regularly and do that for us.
Stucchi, then will be taking training in order to provide monthly Narcan trainings in Holliston and get Narcan to those who need it.
“Narcan is almost $100 a dose,” says Stucchi, “and with only one pharmacy in town, the stigma of walking into the pharmacy and saying, ‘I’m an addict, and I need Narcan,’ which is what you have to do for insurance to cover it “prevents people from getting it, she says. Moreover, she says, addicts, often in denial, are often not the ones who will try to obtain Narcan. Rather, their family members do.
HDAAC is also looking into a partnership with the Holliston Police Department on a “Postvention” program.
“After an overdose, it would be a division of the Holliston Police Department that would come around the person and their family and offer resources and treatment options and see if there is anything we can do as a community to help them,” she says. “This would be done by the police department in their off hours, where they would be plainclothed and in unmarked cars, so that it’s not intrusive.” That requires specialized training for police officers in overtime, says Stucchi, something for which their budget didn’t allow. The new HDAAC funding could offer them the funding they need.
Although some counseling is available at hospitals, says Stucchi, many people who have overdosed go into withdrawal and are not ready for counseling.
“They’re not happy, and they’re sick, and the first thing they want to do is get high to stop the withdrawal,” she says. “The last thing they’re thinking about is treatment options. Most of them think that they were just really high and someone overreacted.” Often, she says, the patient is given a list of resources, but they cannot be held without their consent, and many leave the hospital.
In addition to this possible partnership with the Holliston Police Department, HDAAC will be putting together a resource manual for the town. The bound manual will list the types of local services available and general information about substance addiction and alcoholism. Stucchi would like to look into possibly starting up an NA program in town as well.
Finally, says Stucchi, some of the earmarked funds will be aimed at putting together an awareness campaign on vaping in town.
“Obviously vaping is a huge issue in all the schools, a hot new thing,” says Stucchi. “We’re looking into working with Health Resources in Action on the campaign.”
To stay abreast of updates in HDAAC, visit its Facebook page. You can also attend a meeting on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 600 Central St., Holliston.