McGovern, Neal Announce $100,000 Grant to Help Fight Opioid Crisis in Rural Massachusetts

Today, Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) and Congressman Richard E. Neal (MA-01) announced a $100,000 Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal (ROOR) Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help rural Massachusetts coalitions to prevent opioid overdose deaths. The grant will support efforts led by the North Quabbin Community Coalition, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region in partnership with Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

Collectively called the “Northwest Opioid Overdose Reversal Project,” this project is the only awardee in Massachusetts and one of just 18 nationwide. This grant program supports the purchase and placement of naloxone (a drug that reverses signs of a drug overdose), and training for its use by licensed healthcare professionals and community members in rural areas. The grant will also support efforts to develop, strengthen and formalize policies and partnerships that increase awareness and implementation of overdose education and the use of naloxone as well as referrals to treatment for someone with an opioid use disorder.

“In Massachusetts, our families and communities are feeling the effects of the opioid crisis every day. Working together with leaders at the local, state, and federal level, we are making progress and I know this grant will help us build on those efforts,” Congressman Jim McGovern said. “With this investment in our rural communities, the North Quabbin Community Coalition and the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County will have the resources they need to help those suffering from opioid addiction. We must do all we can to ensure that treatment is available to those who seek it. I am proud to have strong partners like Congressman Neal as we continue the work to end this crisis. “ 

“In 2014, more than 1,000 people died from heroin and prescription drug overdoses in Massachusetts alone. And according to news reports, overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than traffic fatalities, gun homicides and suicides. It is clear that this is a national problem that has reached epidemic proportions. That is why I welcome today’s federal grant to help fight the opioid crisis here at home. We need to use every resource available to fight this scourge that has touched families all across America,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.

"The impact of the opioid crisis on our rural region, from North Adams to Athol, has been felt in every corner of our communities,” noted Opioid Task Force Director Marisa Hebble. “This funding is so important for getting naloxone into the hands of healthcare providers and community members who need it the most. This collaborative project will save lives and help to facilitate important connections to help our neighbors, loved ones and community members in need."

Working together, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation has been raising the voices of Massachusetts families impacted by this crisis. Congressman McGovern is a member of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse and has been a strong voice in the call for federal funding to combat the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic. Congressman Neal is the original co-sponsor of the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act of 2015 that addresses America’s growing Heroin and prescription drug epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the effects of prescription opioid abuse are more prominent in rural communities. In 2013, drug overdose rates for deaths involving prescription opioids were higher in rural counties compared to urban counties. Over the first 9 months of 2014 the NOOR partners saw an overdose death rate of 18.5 per 100,000, much larger than the state’s estimated annual death rate.

For more information please contact your local coalition:

North Quabbin Community Coalition

Heather Bialecki-Canning, Executive Director


Northern Berkshire Community Coalition

Wendy Penner, Director of Prevention Programs


Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region

Marisa Hebble, Director