Tag Archives: addiction

Good bye, Tony ol’ pal!

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Tony Hmura in his bomber jacket, circa 2002.  ICT file photo

By Rosalie Tirella

My old pal Tony Hmura died a few weeks ago at the very ripe old age of 93. To many InCity Times readers the Polish guy from Green Island and then Canterbury Street, where he ran his sign company Leader Signs for 50+ years, was a strange pal for me to hang with. He was a familiar – and controversial – face on these pages, too. He had wild opinions about EVERYTHING – mostly stemming from a horrific Green Island childhood and gleaned from horrific, politically right-wing-nut books that he sent away for and kept on shelves he built by his toilet in his bathroom in his Auburn home. Books that, in his early years, probably got him on some FBI watch lists.

Tony began his crusade for getting money from our private colleges. – PILOT – payment in lieu of taxes – on these pages. Fifteen years ago he got the PILOT ball rolling in ICT!  Something, he said, he’d never get credit for. And he was right! Tony lashed out at all our private colleges, I think, because he was wicked smart and always hungry for all knowledge but his hardscrabble youth kept him from books, writing, drawing – the things he really loved. His immigrant family’s poverty kept him out of Holy Cross’s ivy-covered buildings studying Plato and Socrates – and selling earth worms from a little red wagon Tony pulled around the neighborhood to make money for his mother, whom he adored. Tony was also working full time (illegally) in a Worcester factory. He was an adolescent money making machine! Because he had to be!  It was during the Great Depression and his father from Poland couldn’t handle life in America and had a nervous breakdown – useless to the family. Tony’s Pa was lost  – stayed helpless in a back room in the Hmura Lamartine Street tenement –  a kind of emotional invalid the family cared for and loved  but on whom the clan couldn’t depend. For anything – even love. Tony, at 7, stepped into the breach. There was no welfare or Medicaid or Section 8 back then. So Tony had to hustle to keep his family afloat! He would go with his mother to the places where all the ragged people went to get cans of food; he would dig for mushrooms in the good Woo earth; he’d pick wild blueberries too and sell the earth worms he dug out of the dirt and threw all squiggly and entwined with each other into his red wagon, walking all over kingdom come, a runty, sad kid with the world on his skinny shoulders. He used to tell me that on cold winter nights he would wrap a hot brick with cloth and place it at the foot of his bed then get under his blankets to stay warm. In the morning he’d hit the Worcester streets and begin work.

Tony worked (pretty much to the day he died) with a feisty, jaunty attitude.  He worked at break neck speed – unbelievably strong for a little guy. He hauled big signs, scaled walls, strutted on roofs, blew neon sign letters without masks or filters, inhaling chemicals and dust and dirt.

Even as a teen Tony kicked butt!  Was full of himself! He used to like to tell me the story of how at the old Commerce High School he went up to his teacher and said: I MAKE MORE MONEY THEN YOU DO!

The teacher laughed at Tony’s boldness.

The next week Tony brought in his factory paycheck ( he asked his boss for overtime to fatten it up!) and his earth worm biz money and showed the wad to his teacher.

His teacher was stunned! The poor skinny kid from the Polish ghetto did infact make more money than he did! Tony was reported to the principal – a kid working like a man was not allowed. Plus he was missing lots of school days. Tony’s mom had to walk to Commerce to explain to the authorities that Tony missed classes because he supported the family. Tony’s teacher and principal didn’t say much. Didn’t do much for Tony or his Ma, either. Tony always claimed that if he had been born Irish instead of Polish in Worcester things would have been different – easier for him and his family. Culturally, the Hmuras were outsiders, even though his mom was a devout Catholic and went to  Our Lady of Czetchowa church every Sunday, buxom and stout, her long hair braided and wrapped in a bun at the nape of her neck. Not enough, Tony believes, in an Irish immigrant (as well as WASP) city.

His go getter style and energy propelled Tony to blue collar heights in Worcester. His ambition … his eventual greed … got him tons of rental property (which he relinquished in time cuz he didn’t have the people skills to be a landlord); stocks and bonds, a cool Brady Bunch!! look alike home in Auburn; a little hole in the wall night club; trips all over America the land he loved with  his whole body and soul; women, women, women; even solid bars of gold that he kept in his attic, which his wife wrapped in towels and dragged down the stairs and out of the house during their divorce. Tony never held the move against his ex –  he almost admired her for the feat – she was so petite!, weighed 90 pounds! How the hell did she steal all his solid gold bars??!!

By reading ICT you all learned Tony was against fluoridation of Woo water. To me he railed against what he considered Congressman McGovern’s political machine, though he liked Jim immensely and  pretty much everyone in the “machine,” making donations, putting their political signs on his biz property every election cycle. Sometimes Leader Signs would make the signs!

Tony was filled with contradictions. He was against government hand outs and called for the end of “sucking off the political teat” – whatever that meant – but every Monday morning he’d give 10 bucks to each lost soul – often hookers or junkies or alcoholics – who was lined up at the door of Leader Sign company. He felt sorry for them, but didn’t know the right way to help them. They needed money, asked him for money. So he gave it to them – knowing they’d spend it on booze or junk. He would dole out about 60 bucks. That was just on Monday. The rest of the week moms in need or old workers in need came to Leader Sign and Tony would give them 20 or 30 quid, bitching about it later but unable to turn his back on people who needed help. He once claimed their addictions were part of a liberal govt plot to destroy America. His America. Plus, Tony believed America was a tough place if you were poor and had zero resources.  He ran a kind of nutty social service agency out of Leader Signs pretty much until the day he died.

I wonder how all his old friends are doing without Tony’s donations and goofy chit chat.

Tony walked with a hitch, from a wound he suffered when he was shot down out of his bomber plane during World War II. Tony was a little guy so Uncle Sam made him a gunner, put him in the small end of the plane and told him KEEP FIRING!!!! Tony was in a ton of fights, was shot down two or three times. Each time he thought he died to discover: FUCK! I’M STILL ALIVE! I believe Tony always felt guilty for surviving the war while most of his mates died in combat. I also believe he left WW II shell shocked – and stayed that way for the rest of his life. He didn’t believe in PTSD or psychotherapy or psychiatric meds. The old gunner just toughed it out – for 70+ years. He did go to a weekly WW II veterans support group, where he said nothing, but just hung out and listened. I always believed Tony loved this group of guys even though he whined about what he felt was their belly aching! I believe he ached too – right there with them. 

For a little guy, Tony had an ego as big as the continental USA. So he loved to regale me with stories of his WW II heroics. There were plenty of Tony Hmura ads with photos of him during World War II looking so young and cute: Tony in his bomber uniform, Tony in his dress uniform and cap, Tony with his bomber mates, a fellow gunner with his arm draped over his shoulder, everyone smiling and proud! Of their country! Of themselves! They were all about 18 or 19. They were right along side their captain –  actor JIMMY STEWART!!  Yes! No lie! Stewart was Tony’s squad’s chief pilot. He hung out with his boys, gave them their orders and, according to Tony, “was a regular guy.”

Tony, too, was a regular guy. But like his hero, Jimmy Stewart, he was so much more! I know what you all are thinking – that Tony was a bad man: sexist, racist, a hater. And that I hung out with this kind of guy. But I never saw Tony that way. Yes, he said the evil shit that all men of his time said. But  when you got to know him you realized he did the exact opposite. That he taught that Hispanic artist who used to visit Leader Sign how to blow neon glass – it’s an art and Tony took pride in passing on his knowledge to the next generation. That he charged that black church next to nothing for a sign he made for them. That during the war when a gay combat gunner was being harassed by his mates, Tony beat them up! “He was a good guy,” Tony said. Tony, when I first knew him, had classrooms of kids and their teachers visit the shop to learn about signs and sign making. He didn’t care if the classroom was majority-minority!

Tony Hmura was an American original. He was part of the violent, old, weird America that many of us are ashamed of but an America that we should never stop examining … to see … the good in it. A ghastly, beautiful mystery.

Good bye, Tony, my old friend!

Worcester community news you can use!

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The Family Health Center fair drew hundreds of folks to the Piedmont neighborhood! photos: R.T.

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Kids!!! TODAY!!!!! YAY!!!!

FREE!!!

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We are happy to announce that we are holding free Boston Bruins Alumni Street Hockey Clinics Wednesday August 17 and 24 from 6pm-8pm at the Buffone Rink (Parking Lot).

There is no need to pre-register.

Come out and meet the Bruins Alumni, get a free Bruins Alumni T-shirt and have fun!

Founded by US Olympian and NHL veteran David A. Jensen in 2012, DAJ Hockey is New England’s premier on-ice/off-ice hockey skills training company. DAJ features on-ice hockey skills programs via Boston Bruins Alumni Camps and off-ice skills training at the high-tech DAJ Skills Centers in Foxboro and Attleboro, MA. DAJ also manages street hockey and floorball clinics, camps and leagues throughout New England.

DAJ’s “Hockey in the Streets” program brings the joy of hockey to urban children, who may otherwise not get the opportunity to play the sport!

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Worcester Bands Together To Fight Substance Use!

Upcoming Events Promote Recovery and Healing!

Over the past several years, August and September have been the worst months for opioid-related overdoses in our community and beyond.

In 2014, there was a significant increase in the number of opioid related deaths during the end of the summer.

Since then, the City of Worcester, the Department of Health and Human Services, and our community partners have partnered to respond to the national opioid epidemic – equipping all first responders with life-saving Narcan; training non-emergency city personnel on the use of Narcan; collecting hundreds of pounds of unused prescriptions; instituting the first-ever needle exchange program with AIDS Project Worcester; conducting training for medical professionals on the dangers of overprescribing pain medication; and working to alert the public to the dangers of addiction.

The City of Worcester continues to collect unused prescription drugs at a dropbox at Worcester Police Department Headquarters and at all neighborhood watch meetings.

“Battling the opioid epidemic is a top priority for the city, and it’s a battle we intend to win,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. “From responding to overdoses, public education about addiction and recovery, From prevention to treatment to recovery, the City and our community partners are going all-in to fight this epidemic.”

Overdose Recognition and Response Training

The Worcester Police Department will offer free training for the public on how to recognize and intervene during an opioid overdose using nasal Narcan.

This training event will take place at 5:30 p.m. August 23 at the Worcester Public Library.

Worcester DPH encourages health care providers, substance abuse treatment service providers, first responders, and the public to exercise increased vigilance in promptly identifying suspected overdose victims and taking appropriate action.

The Good Samaritan Law provides protection to people who respond to an overdose and call 911.

The law is intended to encourage people to report drug overdoses as soon as possible, even if drugs are present at the scene.

AIDS Project Worcester’s Overdose Prevention and Narcan distribution program provides free Narcan to those who are likely to witness an overdose.

Learn to Cope, which has a chapter in Worcester, also provides free Narcan to family members of those with a substance use disorder.
Narcan is also available for purchase at CVS and Walgreen’s Pharmacies in the City of Worcester.

Overdose Awareness Day with a Candlelight Vigil:

The Worcester Department of Health and Human Services, along with our community partners will honor International Overdose Awareness Day, with a candlelight vigil and an addiction and recovery awareness campaign at 5:30 p.m. August 31 at the Worcester Common.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held each year and aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose. There will be an opportunity for people to receive information and referral to services for addiction and recovery.

The event will provide an opportunity for the public to express sorrow while also raising awareness on the actions needed to provide more services for recovery and improve understanding of the opioid abuse epidemic.

Participation is free.

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Get yourself outdoors – to one of the many beautiful Worcester parks/green spaces…

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Every 3 1/2 hours, someone dies in a house fire.

With the goal of reducing home-fire related fatalities by 25%, the American Red Cross is installing free smoke alarms in residential homes across the nation.

In Massachusetts, the Red Cross will install up to 2 photo-electric and one dual (photoelectric and ionization) smoke alarms, as well as one carbon monoxide detector.

If you are a Massachusetts resident and would like to request a free smoke alarm installation, please call 1-800-746-3511**

* Southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod and the Islands are experiencing a significant backlog

**please self-identify as a military attached household if applicable (military, military family member, National Guard, veteran)

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The Worcester Public Library Presents
The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program with Rick Morin

Thursday, August 18

2 p.m.

The Worcester Public Library will be hosting the Rick Morin and The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program on Thursday, August 18 at 2:00 p.m. as part of the Summer Reading Program 2016.

The interactive drumming program will be held in the Children’s Room at the Worcester Public Library, and is free and recommended for children ages 5-12.

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Go, lil’ drummer girl, go!!!

About The Rhythm Room:
The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program by Rick Morin explores world music as it relates to today’s pop culture, combining discussion, demonstration and participation. The use of world percussion, drum set, buckets and exploring percussion from objects and one’s own body (clapping, stomping, etc.) is educational as well as motivational and fun. Rick will explain the execution of hand motion to bring out the proper voice of each drum and demonstrate how a percussionist can tell a story with rhythm and theatrical flair.

About Rick Morin:
Rick Morin is the creator and director of the The Rhythm Room, an all-original ten member band. He also developed The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program. Morin is a freelance drummer/percussionist. In 2006 he was awarded the Kathleen McKiel Memorial Award from the North Attleboro Cultural Council for his contributions to the Arts. Morin is an endorsed percussionist by LP, Sabian, REMO, and Vic Firth.

The Rhythm Room Enrichment Program is part of the Summer Reading Program at the Worcester Public Library. The theme for the 2016 program is “Wellness, Fitness, and Sports” – with loads of free programs being offered through August 20 at the Main Library and all branches.

Participants are eligible for prizes for reading and participating in programs. All ages are invited to sign up for summer reading at mywpl.org or at any library location until August 20.

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And don’t forget! Rolling into your neighborhood TODAY! THE REC MOBILE FARMERS MARKET – AKA THE PRETTY BLUE VAN CAN! See schedule, below…

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Jim parked in A.I!

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Congressman McGovern Applauds Bipartisan Action to Address Opioid Crisis

Calls for Stronger Funding to Support National Effort

On the House floor today, Congressman Jim McGovern spoke in support of bipartisan legislation to tackle the opioid epidemic hurting so many communities in Western and Central Massachusetts.

The bills debated today were H.R. 5046, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction (COARA) Act, and H.R. 4641, a bill to provide for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and for other purposes.
 
OPIOID EPIDEMIC IS AN ‘EMERGENCY’
 
“We need to provide funding to our communities struggling to deal with the opioid and heroin crisis. This is an emergency. That’s how you have to classify this and look at this. This is an emergency. People are dying,” Congressman McGovern said. “Without providing the additional resources needed, we will not be part of the solution.
 
“So I think that we need to understand that this crisis has risen to the level of an emergency. We need to do what’s right. We need to not only pass these bills, but we need to commit in a bipartisan way that we’re going to provide the necessary funding and I hope we can do that. If we don’t do that – all the speeches that we give this week will amount to empty rhetoric. We need to make sure we fund these priorities.”
 
ACTION IN MASSACHUSETTS
 

McGovern praised local efforts led by the Central Massachusetts Opioid Task Force and the Opioid Task Force serving Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region and thanked his fellow members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation – Representatives Joe Kennedy (MA-04), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Bill Keating (MA-09), and Stephen Lynch (MA-08).
 
“In New England, we know all too well the terrible toll of the opioid epidemic. Having seen the damage it has done to the communities that I represent in Central and Western Massachusetts, tackling the opioid epidemic has long been a top priority for me,” McGovern added.
 
“Instead of giving in to despair, communities in Massachusetts and across the country are responding to the opioid epidemic with strength and with courage. They are helping to lead grassroots, state and national coalitions to raise awareness and educate people about the crisis and provide resources to help those ensnared by the addiction.
 
“The Central Massachusetts Opioid Task Force, chaired by Worcester County District Attorney Joe Early, is a great example of this. They are working to bring greater awareness of the problem to residents. Members of the task force attend many of the coalition forums and also go into schools to talk to students.
 
“The Opioid Task Force serving Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region in Massachusetts is another example. It’s co-chaired by John Merrigan, Franklin County Register of Probate; Chris Donelan, Franklin County Sheriff; and David Sullivan, Northwestern District Attorney.
 
“I am so thankful for these and other task forces and coalitions in Massachusetts and across the country for coming together quickly to address this public health crisis and for their tenacity in fighting for individuals and families struggling with addiction.”
 
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Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Remarks:
 

“I rise to speak on the rule for consideration of H.R. 5046, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction (COARA) Act, and H.R. 4641, a bill to provide for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and for other purposes.
 
“By the end of this week, the House will have taken up a total of 17 bipartisan ‘opioid-related’ bills, each a critical measure to help us tackle the opioid crisis in a variety of ways as we work to end this scourge hurting so many communities across our country and costing the lives of so many all across this country.
 
“I am pleased that the House will be considering this critical bipartisan legislation this week, but in all honesty, I am also very concerned that Republicans are not proposing the new funding that is necessary to meaningfully address the opioid crisis. So in addition to passing the bipartisan legislation on the Floor this week, which authorizes a new grant program, we must also provide real new resources in the form of appropriations to ensure that the initiatives in this legislation can be fully implemented.  If we don’t do that – all the speeches that we give this week will amount to empty rhetoric. We need to make sure we fund these priorities. This is an emergency.
 
“Opioid addiction is inflicting a savage daily toll in neighborhoods across America. According to the CDC, 78 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day – and many of them are young people. In 2013, the number of heroin users was 681,000, an increase of more than 250,000 users since 2002. This crisis is affecting every region across the country and every demographic group.
 
“I have long said that Congress must provide the meaningful resources that are needed to make a difference and save lives and today I am pleased that the we are coming together and taking action to attempt to do just that. These are important first steps.
 
“In New England, we know all too well the terrible toll of the opioid epidemic. Having seen the damage it has done to the communities that I represent in Central and Western Massachusetts, tackling the opioid epidemic has long been a top priority for me.
 
“Across Massachusetts the number of opioid overdose deaths climbed by nearly 10 percent – up from 1,282 in 2014 to 1,379 in 2015. Once all cases are finalized by the medical officials in Massachusetts, it’s estimated that there will be an additional 63 to 85 deaths for 2014 and 118 to 179 deaths in 2015.
 
“In Worcester County alone, home of the second-largest city in New England, opioid-related deaths jumped from 163 in 2014 to 177 in 2015. Looking back at the last 16 years, we can see an even bigger increase. In 2000, there were 59 opioid-related overdose deaths in Worcester County – a small fraction of the 1,289 deaths in 2015.
 
“Most of last year’s victims were between the ages of 25 and 44, in the prime of their lives with so much to live for. Many left behind families heartbroken and devastated by these senseless deaths. These families include husbands, wives, children, and so many more who loved them and desperately wanted them to get the help they needed and live.
 
“The opioid epidemic is even harder to cope with for those who have seen young people lose their lives to addiction. In Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, one high school principal said that in the 11 years he has been principal, he has known of 33 students who have been active heroin addicts. Seven of them died and at a recent forum, he learned that there had been even more that he had not known about.
 
“Part of the problem is the stigma associated with heroin use. I think a lot of us think we know what heroin use and addiction look like, but the reality is it can take hold of anyone, including our neighbors, our friends, and even our own family members.
 
“However, instead of giving in to despair, communities in Massachusetts and across the country are responding to the opioid epidemic with strength and with courage. They are helping to lead grassroots, state and national coalitions to raise awareness and educate people about the crisis and provide resources to help those ensnared by the addiction.
 
“The Central Massachusetts Opioid Task Force, chaired by Worcester County District Attorney Joe Early, is a great example of this. They are working to bring greater awareness of the problem to residents. Members of the task force attend many of the coalition forums and also go into schools to talk to students.
 
“The Opioid Task Force serving Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region in Massachusetts is another example. It’s co-chaired by John Merrigan, Franklin County Register of Probate; Chris Donelan, Franklin County Sheriff; and David Sullivan, Northwestern District Attorney.
 
“I am so thankful for these and other task forces and coalitions in Massachusetts and across the country for coming together quickly to address this public health crisis and for their tenacity in fighting for individuals and families struggling with addiction.
 
“Just this week, I had the opportunity to join community leaders at North Brookfield High School in Central Massachusetts for an event with Chris Herren, a former constituent of mine from Fall River and a former Boston Celtics player who now travels to schools in New England and across the country to speak about his own recovery from addiction and the need for young people to stay drug-free.
 
“I am also grateful to my fellow members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation for being strong partners in this fight. Joe Kennedy is a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and has been a leader on this issue – he’s the lead Democratic sponsor of HR 4641. And a number of amendments sponsored by Massachusetts members were made in order last night, including several from Katherine Clark as well as amendments from Seth Moulton, Bill Keating, and Stephen Lynch.
 
“I also want to commend the leadership of Congresswoman Annie Custer from New Hampshire. She has been out front on this issue for a long, long time and we appreciate her leadership.
 
“The simple truth is that we’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem. Prevention and treatment must be at the heart of our approach to tackling this epidemic. As part of the comprehensive approach called for, we must equip our young people with the skills necessary to identify constructive ways to deal with problems so that turning to drugs is never an option.
 
“We must make every effort to ensure that treatment is available to those who seek it. Because it takes courage and strength to admit that you need help. I am pleased that the legislation we are considering this week will do just that.
 
“I strongly support the legislation this rule makes in order. H.R. 5046, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, would establish the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Grant Program. With $103 million provided annually over 5 years, this program would help provide vital assistance to state and local agencies to fund treatment alternatives to incarceration, opioid abuse prevention, training, and education. 
 
“The program’s grants could be used to train first responders in carrying and administering opioid overdose reversal drugs, support prescription drug monitoring programs, and strengthen collaborations between criminal justice agencies and substance abuse systems, or for programs targeted toward juvenile opioid abuse programs.
     
“This legislation is a commonsense bipartisan step that goes a long way to provide the critical help that Americans across this country need to combat our opioid epidemic. 
 
“I also support of H.R. 4641, a bill to provide for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and for other purposes. Creating this task force is another key step to help strengthen our national response to the opioid crisis and increase inter-agency collaboration as we marshal all of our resources in this fight.
 
“I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who worked very hard to bring additional bipartisan legislation to the floor this week to tackle the opioid crisis. These bills would take important steps to cut the risk of opioid addiction among veterans managing chronic pain, take on international drug traffickers, improve the treatment and care of babies who are born addicted to opioids, help reduce opioid use among young people, and strengthen access to opioid overdose reversal medication.
 
“There are many issues that Democrats and Republicans do not see eye to eye on, but I am pleased that both parties are coming together, at least on this first step, to tackle  the opioid crisis. For families and communities across the country who have already lost so much and so many to this epidemic, there has never been a more important time for us to take action.
 
“I want to thank the leaders of both parties for helping to bring these important bipartisan bills to the House floor. I do believe we can end the opioid crisis once and for all.
 
“But again – let me stress – we need to provide funding to our communities struggling to deal with the opioid and heroin crises. This is an emergency. That’s how you have to classify this and look at this. This is an emergency. People are dying. Without providing the additional resources needed, we will not be part of the solution.
 
“So the ideas that we have compiled today and are debating this week are all good ideas, but they won’t be real ideas unless they are funded. And I worry that this Congress might not be up to the challenge.
 
We have emergencies in Flint, Michigan with the water crisis. And we have not done what we needed to do to provide emergency funding for that community. We have a growing emergency with the Zika virus and we can’t get an emergency appropriations bill to the floor.
 
“So I think that we need to understand that this crisis has risen to the level of an emergency. We need to do what’s right. We need to not only pass these bills, but we need to commit in a bipartisan way that we’re going to provide the necessary funding and I hope we can do that.
 
“With that, I reserve the balance of my time.”
 

Drug-free always in style! Congressman Jim McGovern Applauds Obama Administration Efforts to Expand Treatment and Education for Opioid Addiction

Congressman Jim McGovern applauded the announcement this week from the White House that it is calling for an expansion of specialized treatment for prescription painkiller and heroin addiction and training of medical school students using the newly released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prescriber guidelines for opioids.

President Obama spoke at this week’s National RX Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta.

“… President Obama announced new public and private sector actions to strengthen efforts in Massachusetts and across the country to tackle the opioid crisis. Massachusetts families are seeing the devastating impact of the opioid crisis every day, and we need strong national leadership to help our communities recover and come back from the brink,” McGovern said.

He continued:

“Prevention and treatment must be at the heart of our approach. [This week’s] actions are essential steps to do just that by expanding access to treatment, preventing overdose deaths and increasing community prevention strategies. With President Obama’s already announced proposal for $1.1 billion in new funding to ensure that all Americans can get the treatment they need, it’s clear that the White House is ready to rise to the challenge.

“Nearly 30,000 Americans died from opioid overdose last year – more than 1,300 in Massachusetts – and the need for action has never been greater.

“I urge my fellow members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to come together to make the serious investments needed to end the opioid crisis once and for all and ensure that every American can get the help they need to recover.”

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BACKGROUND ON THE WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCEMENT:

Increasing access to a key drug for medication-assisted treatment:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a proposed rule to increase the current patient limit for qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorders from 100 to 200 patients with the goal of expanding access to this evidence-based treatment while preventing diversion.

The proposed rule aims to increase access to medication-assisted treatment and behavioral health supports for tens of thousands of people with opioid use disorders.

Why this matters: Buprenorphine is an FDA-approved drug that, because of its lower potential for abuse, is permitted to be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices, which significantly increases its availability to many patients. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective. Existing evidence shows that this lifesaving, evidence-based treatment is under-utilized.

Updating the regulations around the prescribing of buprenorphine-containing products, as proposed, would help close this treatment gap. Learn more here.

Preventing opioid overdose deaths:

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is releasing a new $11 million funding opportunity to states to purchase and distribute the opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone, and to train first responders and others on its use along with other overdose prevention strategies.

SAMHSA is also releasing a new $11 million funding opportunity for up to 11 states to expand their medication-assisted treatment services. SAMHSA is distributing 10,000 pocket guides for clinicians that include a checklist for prescribing medication for opioid use disorder treatment and integrating non-pharmacologic therapies into treatment.

Why this matters: In 2014, nearly 21,000 deaths in the United States involved prescription opioids, and more than 10,500 involved heroin. Naloxone is a prescription drug that can reverse the effects of prescription opioid and heroin overdose, and can be life-saving if administered in time.

Addressing the substance use disorder parity in Medicaid:

HHS is finalizing a rule to strengthen access to mental health and substance use services for people enrolled in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) plans by requiring that these benefits be offered at parity, meaning that they be comparable to medical and surgical benefits.

Why this matters: These protections are expected to benefit more than 23 million people in Medicaid and CHIP. These actions build on the President’s proposal for $1.1 billion in new funding to help every American with an opioid use disorder who wants treatment get the help they need.

Super cool!!!!!!!

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Rosalie wants to join the WPD Vice Squad – for reasons other than crime-busting!

By Rosalie Tirella

I tell ya, this past week’s drug bust in the house next door to mine, in Worcester’s lower Vernon Hill neighborhood, was a blast! Not a bust! But a blast! All we gawkers/rubberneckers who watched the 15, maybe more, super cops converge on 48 1/2 Ward St. early one pretty spring morning quickly got sucked into the cool cool show and realized the Worcester Police Department Vice Squad and the Mass State Police vice crew are da bomb. Creme de la creme. A #1. Top of the pops. The BEST – ever. Super-Fly-Shaft-Popeye-Doyle deelish! The stuff of early Sly Stallone movies!

Cocky, happy warriors cuz they know they’re the good guys who are out to defeat the bad guys – the whore masters, drug pushers, machine-gun-packing post-pubescent pukes who destroy lives, families and (mostly) our Worcester inner-city neighborhooods.

The kind of men and women (EMTs and fire fighters included!) who pulled America through 9/11.

Trust me: They are worth every cent we taxpayers – mostly cowardly, out-of-shape losers who love to grouse about squandered dough tumbling down the fed/municipal government rabbit hole – pay them.

They’re our inner-city heroes! Never forget that!

You always read about the bad seed – the trigger-happy cop suffering from PTSD. You seldom read about the rest of the troops, the mostly good guys, who are in peak physical and mental shape. Agile of mind and body. The guys who enjoy the freedom and excitement of their jobs, the camaraderie of the investigation – and the raid.

The adreneline junkies!

Out to apprehend the junky junkies!

Like the Worcester vice squad cops who were outside my house a few days ago… They looked so freakin’ AMAZING in their basic tee shirts and jeans, their uniform of the streets. Their clothes fell so beautifully on their bodies because their bodies were beautiful – not an ounce of fat anywhere I could see – hard, sculpted muscles that were worked at and on in THE GYM. EVERY DAY.

Six pack abs, bulging pecs and biceps. Spring in their steps. Shaven heads, too. The guns they wore on the waistbands of their jeans were compact, hard-edged, stream-lined – just like they were. Everything about these guys was urban tough. Cuz they know what they’re up against.

Swoon …

I’ve seen these vice squad guys (and gals) and their German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd drug-sniffing dogs do their work before, usually in our inner city, where poverty, despair, anger, depression, ignorance, emotional, sexual and physical abuse and exploitation of every stripe come together in relentless waves of bad luck and bad happenings.

Most people here never catch a break. They hurt and hurt … and kill each other mindlessly, pointlessly …

You drive through places like my Worcester neigborhood and witness the drug houses, dumped garbage, unemployed young men, obscenity-laced shouting matches playing out in the streets, the condemned buildings, abandoned property, undernourished little kids and feel … oppressed.

There’s beautiful stuff here, too – don’t get me wrong. I live on Ward Street for the beautiful stuff … like the poor parents who dress their little kids up so cute and adorable – transcending the badness … the kids who walk the family chihuahua after coming home from elementary school, in the ugly concrete parking lot, yet they look so happy as they trot alongside their feisty wee pet … The retired lady who picks up the trash strewn on the sidewalk, outside her front door. … My awesome 90-year-old apartment with its high ceilings, solid, heavy dining room doors that come together to slide shut, the original 90-year-old woodwork that is stained dark brown and looks so lovely against my creamy walls. I look out my top floor window at night and see the city lights twinkling like millions of little white flowers cast out onto a deep purple sea. I remember my late mom who grew up near by and her goodness enfolds me like the purple night enfolds the white city flowers …

Back to singing the praises of the Woo PD vice squad!

I’ve seen their Belgian shepherd dog go through a car on Canterbury Street sniffing for drugs. Nothing languid about that dog! A model of tough, lean, intrepid, single-minded thoroughness. With just the slightest prompt from his lean, cool cop handler the dog jumps into the car’s trunk to run his nose over every square millimeter of trunk space. Then jumping out of the trunk, always on lead, he leaps into the back seat sniffing wildly, then lithe paws straddle the front seat sniffing madly – then onto the dashboard. Finally, the car hood is popped open and the dog – smaller and more agile than a German Shepherd dog with an edgier temperment – crawls on top of (the now cold) engine! And he is losing himself in the car’s innards. To get at the drugs. This all happened in around five minutes.

Back to the raid next door to my place! Like I said, watching the Worcester PD Vice Squad or any of the cops and state police who pursue drug dealers and other vice is like watching a big budget cop movie in the cineplex. Only it’s happening in real life, real time, yards away from you!

I watched the show on Ward Street a few days ago: the cops opening up a drug dealer’s car and pulling stuff out of it. Paper work. Floor mats. Clip boards. Some of the guys were taking gulps from their bottled water. All were talking loudly, boisterously. The hood was theirs! The arrests had been made earlier, at a different drug house. There were several houses involved located in two states – there were a bunch of young men involved – all, sadly, in their mid-20s. Thousands of dollars in cash were recovered – and a machine gun, too! (thank you, NRA!) But no one had been hurt. The guns, heroin, cocaine, drug dealers are now gone! Poof! Out of my Ward Street neighborhood! Just like in the movies! (Or, some of them are gone, at the very least)

Our urban cavalry road in and saved the Woo day! Women and children are now a little – maybe a lot – safer when we walk down Ward Street.

And I’ll always remember the playfulness in the voice of one vice squad cop who said good bye to the young lady who had been watching him do his job from HER apartment window: “See ya later, Sweetie!”

Swoon …

John parked in AI: ADDICTION – NOT A CHOICE

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Text and photos by John Bean

If you’ve glanced at a paper recently, turned on a radio, or channel surfed at all then you’re probably already aware that we’re in the heat of an opioid overdose epidemic. More specifically, opioid overdose-death epidemic. In Massachusetts alone we are losing at least four residents per day to this – that’s 56 people since the last issue of In City Times just two weeks ago. When you add to it the number of ODs that were able to be revived or simply lucked out, the numbers are even more staggering.

But this isn’t just about numbers this is about real people with real families, real jobs, careers, friends and futures – its about all of us. By definition, this is a Public Heath Crisis.

Public health and the general well-being of our community was always a priority for one Worcester resident, Tim Houston. Weather collecting and preparing food to give to those in need of it here in our city or by providing live background music in support of those doing like-minded works, he was always close to the front and often first to volunteer in addressing any public need, even while he was still just a young teen coming into his own. However, addiction knows no boundaries, isn’t concerned with social standing, or personalities, and no-one is immune. After a relatively brief period of experimentation, followed by a prolonged and difficult struggle with dependency, Tim succumbed to his disease last August. He was 23 years old.

Tim’s mother, Anne told me, “Around the time he was finishing up high school there was a proliferation of pain pills in every kids medicine cabinet they could dip into for fun”. She saw first hand that after his first use, “it was no longer a choice for him”. After a period of abstinence and staying away from the kids he was hanging with, a prescription for his wisdom teeth extraction brought him right back in. By then the availability of prescription drugs had dried up due to new, perhaps overdue prescribing regulations and the shutting down of the so called “pillmills” in Florida. And he, like so many others, found himself turning to the street where heroine is cheaper and readily available to anyone. Only on the street there is no way to know what you are getting from one dose to the next.

It’s well established within the medical community that addiction, (to drugs or alcohol, etc), is a disease, not a choice – at least not at first. The risk for one to become addicted increases with the number of immediate ancestors that are addicted. This is true weather you’ve witnessed their behavior or not. Its genetic. However, people without the genetic history are not necessarily off the hook. In fact anyone can become addicted simply by using or abusing any mood altering substance over a prolonged period of time. This is especially true with certain “feel-good” drugs, such as opiates.

Once addicted it takes a lot more than mere determination to get and stay clean. One major reason for this is how severely sick one can become during withdrawal. This ‘dope-sickness’ has been compared to, “your worst flu ever, times ten, and for twice as long, then you’re drained and left depressed.”

It hits you from both sides: intensely euphoric on one end and deathly sick on the other. It should not be surprising for us to see someone caught up in this seemingly never-ending cycle.
Even so, while so many die from heroine overdose, one cannot die from heroine withdrawal.

That’s not to say that the one going through it wouldn’t welcome death at that moment. Going it alone Cold-Turkey, is a traumatic enough experience that it must be considered thoughtfully as a crucial part of anyone’s recovery process.

Medically there are several options to assist in the physical withdrawal. Perhaps most commonly known is Methadone, a pharmaceutical opiate primarily used as a long-term maintenance tool for chronic addicts where the patient is required to follow fairly strict regulations, submit to random toxicology-screens, and show up to a clinic, usually daily, to receive their dose.

Suboxone, a semi-synthetic opiate relatively new to the US market, (2002), is used in a similar way but is said to have less undesirable effects than Methadone and be less subject to abuse. It is also being studied for its off-label potential as an anti-depressant – depression being a common underlying factor keeping many addicts from long term recovery, and for many the very thing that lead them to drugs in the first place.

Some have even become desperate enough to try a controversial drug therapy treatment said to provide a, “rapid detox without the side-effects”. In the early ’60s a long term heroine user, Howard Lotsof, realized, quite by accident, that several days after taking this halluginegen from West Africa that he was, “not dope-sick and hadn’t even thought of using since last week”. This Ibogaine has been studied on and off for its medicinal uses, most recently at the University of Florida. It is still illegal in the states and one must travel, at considerable expense, to Mexico, Canada, or any of several European countries to find this treatment in a controlled enviroment.

However, there is no magic pill for any of this. The whole person needs to be treated. Of Suboxone, Annie Parkinson, Central and Western Mass Coordinator for MOAR, (Massachusetts Organization for
Addiction Recovery), and former director of a local Suboxone program says, “It’s more than a pill – it’s a program.”

Throughout the community various support groups and programs can be found. From Narcotics Anonymous, made up of addicts in recovery passing on the message to others seeking sobriety to more formally run peer support groups such as Everyday Miracles, operated by Spectrum Health Systems, who additionally offers a variety of treatment options including detox facilities and outpatient clinics.
Everyday Miracles Peer Coordinator, Michael Earielo says, “We’re peer driven/staff run. We are unique in that we accept all pathways to recovery.”. All addictions and schools of thought are welcome to visit the center at 25 Pleasant St, dowtown Worcester.

In classic Worcester tradition the crisis is being met squarely from the bottom up, by diehard and dedicated individuals, non-profits, grassroots groups, and of course addicts who have found recovery.

And in tragic Worcester tradition, City Hall is rushing to catch up. The city has received a grant from the Substance Abuse Services of Mass Department of Public Health. I was unable todetermine from the Board of Health web site how the grant is being used.

The restraining arm of “Papito”

By Ron O’ Clair

[Recently] I had reason to summon the Worcester Police to come and remove six drug-addicted persons out of one of the individual rooms here in the rooming house I manage on Main Street, at the corner of Charlton and Main streets.

I did so after receiving a complaint from the tenant who is the only person authorized by management to occupy this SRO [Single Room Occupancy] unit.

He is being systematically robbed of his monthly income by these people who he will allow to enter the building, and then when they don’t go away when he tells them to, he calls me to make them leave.

Generally, I will do that myself, and most times the people will all scramble out when I tell them to go.

The only problem is, when I turn my back on them, right back they come either by disabling the front door lock mechanism or the rear security gate, and that requires me to constantly be on guard, to the detriment of the work I have to do to accomplish my mission.

I thought that here is an excellent opportunity to have some of these people brought up on charges for trespassing at the very least.

Well, can you figure what happened when the Worcester Police came in answer to my call for their assistance?

Police officers Chau & McKenna refused to charge any of them … they were just allowed to leave even after the fact that when the police were knocking on the unit door, I was stationed at the kitchen door waiting for the room window to open so they could bail out that way.

And sure enough, while they were stalling on opening the door, they started climbing out the window!

I got the attention of Officer McKenna and he came to make sure they went back in the room. Then they realized they were caught and that Officer Chau had told them to open the door because we have the key anyway, so they did.

There were six known drug addicted persons in the room, a mixture of drug users and prostitutes.

These are the same individuals who I have repeatedly told to stop trespassing and stay off the property. They simply ignore all attempts made by either the previous owner or myself to make that happen.

The Worcester Police always are quick to tell the owner and myself what we need to do to stop this behavior with their suggestions of beefing up security and many other suggestions.

But they are unwilling to do the job required of them by locking up the criminals, so that they will learn not to come back on threat of going back to jail.

I have called at least 10,000 times for police assistance over the 13 year period that I have been the responsible party for this particular piece of Real Estate here in Worcester (That can be verified by public record as statistics kept by the Worcester Police Department.)

The result? Only to have the criminals repeatedly allowed to walk away with no criminal charges, or as in the recent episode, without even having the benefit of a check for wants and warrants on those individuals – some of whom may have had warrants for their arrest on file.

After that incident, I was down in the lobby when I saw a fellow fire off seven rounds out of a semi-automatic hand gun!

Directly opposite where I was with my dangling Fujifilm 18x digital camera around my neck.

As I was attempting to start it up and film the shooter casually walking toward the getaway vehicle that was waiting with the engine running on Wellington Street the street person that was with me prevented me from doing so. Out of his fear that we would be shot as the next target when the suspect looked and saw me there with the camera poised ready to start.

If not for the intervention of “Papito” as this person is called on the street, I would have boldly gone where I have been going for the last 13 years and zoomed in on the license plate of the getaway vehicle as well as the face of the shooter.

Yea though it is very dangerous for me, it is just what I would have done if not for the restraining arm of “Papito” who was concerned for not only my safety, but his own.

I will never not stand up as a man to do the right thing and assist the local police (as inefficient as they can be) to maintain order in my community as is my duty as a citizen.

Nor will I live in fear or on my knees in subjugation to criminal minded drug dealers who think they can control the 700 block of Main Street in Worcester, city of birth.

It is not in my nature to cower in fear of retribution, and I do firmly believe that the God of my understanding has my back anyway.

In fashion: President Obama … and the ALA

Congressman Jim McGovern Applauds $1.1 Billion in President Obama’s Budget to Address the Opioid Epidemic

McGovern Welcomes Proposal to Ensure All Who Seek Treatment Can Get Help They Need
 
Congressman Jim McGovern applauded this week’s announcement that President Obama’s FY 2017 Budget includes $1.1 billion in funding to address the opioid epidemic that is impacting so many families in Massachusetts and across the country.
 
“Today’s announcement that President Obama’s budget will dedicate more than $1 billion to address the opioid epidemic is a critical step in this fight,” Congressman McGovern said. “In the past year, I have worked tirelessly to make sure the voices of Massachusetts families are heard in Washington, co-sponsoring three different bills and joining my House Colleagues to call on Administration officials to ensure all of our communities are receiving the federal funds needed to address this crisis.
 
“With the proposed funding announced today by President Obama, it is clear that our voices are being heard and Massachusetts can count on the White House to be a strong national partner in this fight,” McGovern added. “We must do all we can to ensure that treatment is available to those who seek it and by prioritizing treatment and prevention, this proposal takes the smart and comprehensive approach we need to help all of the families and communities touched by the opioid epidemic. This is a national priority and I look forward to working with both parties in Congress to securing the funding and resources we need to win this fight in Massachusetts.”
 
President Obama’s proposal includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use.

This funding will boost efforts to help individuals with an opioid use disorder seek treatment, successfully complete treatment, and sustain recovery. 

This funding includes:
 
·         $920 million to support cooperative agreements with States to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. States will receive funds based on the severity of the epidemic and on the strength of their strategy to respond to it.  States can use these funds to expand treatment capacity and make services more affordable. 

·         $50 million in National Health Service Corps funding to expand access to substance use treatment providers.  This funding will help support approximately 700 providers able to provide substance use disorder treatment services, including medication-assisted treatment, in areas across the country most in need of behavioral health providers.

·         $30 million to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs employing medication-assisted treatment under real-world conditions and help identify opportunities to improve treatment for patients with opioid use disorders.

This investment, combined with other efforts underway to reduce barriers to treatment for substance use disorders, will help ensure that every American who wants treatment can access it and get the help they need.   
 
Second, the President’s Budget includes approximately $500 million — an increase of more than $90 million — to continue and build on current efforts across the Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand state-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities. A portion of this funding is directed specifically to rural areas, where rates of overdose and opioid use are particularly high. 

To help further expand access to treatment, the Budget includes an HHS pilot project for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment, where allowed by state law.

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American Lung Association’s ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ Gives Massachusetts Mixed Grades for Efforts to Save Lives by Reducing Tobacco Use

The American Lung Association released this week its 14th annual “State of Tobacco Control” report that finds that in 2015 Massachusetts made progress on tobacco control policies that will save lives.

The report also finds that most states and the federal government earned poor grades, and the high level of youth use of tobacco products other than cigarettes threatens to undermine the United States’ overall progress in the fight against tobacco-caused death and disease.
 
“While we celebrate successful tobacco control policies in Massachusetts like its efforts to regulate e-cigarette use by restricting sales to those 18 years and older, we still must face the reality that young people are using tobacco products like e-cigarettes and little cigars at an all-time high,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Nearly a quarter of high school students nationwide are using tobacco products, and it is essential that Massachusetts continue to  take aggressive action to reduce all tobacco use – the #1 cause of preventable death and disease in our nation.”
 
The “State of Tobacco Control” report documents the progress and failure of the states and the federal government to address tobacco use. The report assigns grades based on whether federal and state laws protect Americans from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy.
 
“State of Tobacco Control 2016” finds Massachusetts mixed grades show that progress is possible, although even more needs to be done by our Governor and State Legislature to pass proven policies that will reduce tobacco use and save lives:

Tobacco Prevention and Control Program Funding Grade – F

Tobacco Taxes – Grade A

Smokefree Air – Grade A

Access to Cessation Services – Grade D

The American Lung Association of the Northeast calls on Massachusetts to act on increasing funding for the state’s tobacco control program to $9 million per year, include e-cigarettes and all other tobacco derived products as part of the state’s definition of tobacco and increase access to tobacco cessation treatments and services.

As of January 31, 2016, the Obama Administration had not yet given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight authority over all tobacco products including cigars, e-cigarettes, little cigars and hookah (commonly referred to as the deeming rule). The grade of “I” for Incomplete for FDA Regulation of Tobacco Products is assigned because the final rule is expected at any time. Other federal grades include a “C” for Federal Cessation Coverage, an “F” for Tobacco Taxes and a “B” for its Mass Media Campaigns, a new grading area in this year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report.

“It’s not a secret how we can reduce tobacco use in this country. ‘State of Tobacco Control 2016’ looks at proven methods to save lives and prevent our children from becoming the next generation hooked on tobacco,” said Casey Harvell, Director of Public Policy for Massachusetts. “We must demand that our elected officials in Massachusetts urgently act to implement these proven policies to save lives.”

Go, Edith, go!!!

Our still, small voice

By Edith Morgan
 
Not all of us have one. And of those who do, not all of us listen to it. It’s invisible, except in some Disney movies, where it is called “Jiminy Cricket,” or where it takes the shape of a small, mouthy dragon, as in “Mulan”, or where it is sometimes portrayed as sitting on our shoulder, on the opposite side from a devil figure, whispering into our ear and trying to guide us onto the right path.
 
I grew up in the era when Sigmund Freud was making his discoveries about the human psyche. We understood that there were three important parts, which should remain in balance: the id, the ego, and the superego. 

Looking at our society today, it is obvious that the ego and the id are in great shape; but there is scant evidence of any superego in a number of our citizens: there appears to be no small, still voice speaking to us, and counseling  us, and guiding us in our daily endeavors.

It is the voice of conscience that is so often missing, or drowned out by the clamor of the ego (taking selfies, starting nearly every sentence with “I,” pandering to our every whim, and indulging even when we know it is harmful.).
 
I bring this up now because these days we are looking to power and help outside of ourselves and blame external forces for our troubles.

The opioid crisis is a good example: Is there any adult out there who does not know about the addictive power of alcohol, nicotine, heroin, oxycontin, marijuana and all the other habit-forming substances out there?

I will admit that it is much more difficult for some of us to resist their appeal than it is for others. The penchant to become addicted seems to be far stronger in some of us than in others.  We have all known people who can take a drink or two, or a cigarette or two, and not want any more. But we also know others who, on taking one drink, or one pill, or one cigarette, immediately crave another, and another and another. 

When I was a school teacher, I was pretty sure I could spot the potential habit-formers among students as early as grade 1, and I believe that most teachers today can do the same, given a chance to think about it.

Wouldn’t it be a better preventive, if we could help those children right from the beginning, at least warn them, and help them to resist the siren call of addiction?

The so-called  “War on Drugs” has been an expensive and violence-ridden failure, and we still have about the same number of addicts. Added to the street drugs, we now have so many pain killers, passed out  like candy –  acting as the gateway to street drugs. 
 
How about funding immediate treatment, rather than the revolving door of jail?

How about insisting that treatment be long enough, good enough, and individualized enough to enable addictive personalities to stand up to their problem?

It would be cheaper, more effective and more humane.
 
And maybe we can get back to instilling that still, small voice inside us all that tells us “Don’t do this!”. Conscience is good for other decisions too, and putting up with a bit of discomfort once in a while certainly beats becoming an addict.

From the REPEAL THE CASINO DEAL folks …

“Expanded gaming in the Commonwealth opens the door to a new form of predatory gaming. We are concerned that the Commonwealth will be forced to rely on an unstable form of revenue, depending largely on those addicted to gambling. They are the citizens who are already among the ranks of the poorest in the community – the ones who can least afford to gamble.”

“We urge the citizens of Massachusetts to vote ‘Yes’ on Ballot Question 3 and stop the expansion of predatory gambling.”

Those sage and impactful words came in a statement from the Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts yesterday, led by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and the Bishops of Worcester, Springfield and Fall River. Further demonstrating the growing support for casino repeal, they join elected officials like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Stephen Lynch, grassroots activists, concerned parents, and others.

We’re seven weeks from Election Day. If you’ve thought about joining the campaign against casino gambling in Massachusetts, that moment is now.

Join the campaign to stop the casino mess. Please donate, volunteer to help, and follow us on social media. This fall, it’s a Yes on Question 3.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, our new Yes on 3 website is live. Give it a look, and share it with your friends, family and neighbors. It’ll be an ongoing source for the latest news, events, and facts about casino repeal.

Together, we’ll defeat the casino industry.

John Ribeiro, chairman

Repeal the Casino Deal