Published in the May 10, 2017 edition


LYNNFIELD — The town has committed to address the opioid crisis head-on with the approval of a substance abuse coalition called “A Healthy Lynnfield” by the Board of Selectmen Monday night.

A dozen local officials and business leaders have signed on to start the coalition, which is the minimum number mandated by the state. The board has now invited other residents, professionals and community and business leaders to join in this effort as well.

“This is an extremely important endeavor for the Board of Selectmen in taking the leadership role to develop this coalition. This certainly affects all age groups, from our young to our older adults,” said Selectmen Chairman Chris Barrett, adding that Selectman Phil Crawford has taken the lead role in establishing this coalition.

“I’ve been working on it for several months. It came as a mandate from the Mass. Municipal Association (MMA) and the governor’s office,” Crawford said, noting that this mandate states that local officials “have an obligation to lead” on this public health crisis.

The mandate also states: “Substance abuse and opioid addiction is a public health crisis affecting virtually every community in the commonwealth. Local officials can and must provide leadership to guide the effort to combat this epidemic.”

The mandate continues: “Through coalition building, engagement of stakeholders, and implementation of proven best practices, municipal leaders can make a real difference to reverse this crisis, save lives, and create healthy, safe and thriving communities. This is a moral duty that all of us who are privileged to serve in local government must embrace fully.”

While the town is “a little behind other communities” in establishing this coalition, to be called A Healthy Lynnfield, Crawford explained, “We can also learn from what they’ve done, what worked and what hasn’t worked.”

“The mission of the coalition is to provide a healthy community in Lynnfield to increase awareness, promote education and provide resources to address substance abuse problems,” Crawford said.

“I would also ask that all members of the coalition be designated as Special Municipal Employees so all members of the community can participate,” he said. The board agreed to this provision as well.

The MMA’s Municipal Opioid Addiction and Overdose Prevention task force has the following 10 recommendations for local leaders:

1.) Take the lead to increase public awareness and engagement.

2.) Designate a municipal point person on substance abuse prevention

3.) Encourage intra-community, regional and statewide collaboration.

4.) Develop a one-page resource guide for families and those seeking treatment or assistance.

5.) Pilot innovative programs based on local needs.

6.) Publicize the Good Samaritan Law

7.) Partner with schools to implement programs aimed at prevention.

8.) Create prevention curriculum and education programs

9.) Provide first responders with naloxone (Narcan) to prevent overdose deaths

10.) Create “safe disposal sites” in your community for the discarding of prescription drugs.

Several community and federal grants exist that can help fund this coalition. To qualify for these grants the coalition must have 12 distinct sectors of the community engaged, explained Crawford. These sectors are: youths (under the age of 18), parents, law enforcement, clergy and faith-based groups, schools, healthcare, media, businesses, civic or volunteer groups, youth-serving organizations, government agencies with expertise in the field of substance abuse and organizations involved in reducing substance abuse.

Crawford added that the following local leaders have committed to being part of Lynnfield’s coalition: Kevin Cyr, Director of Teaching and Learning for the Lynnfield Public Schools; Brian Bates, Vice Principal at LHS; Mary Homan, Director of Nursing at LHS; Dave Breen, Chief of the Lynnfield Police Department; Mark Tetreault, Chief of the Lynnfield Fire Department; Jim Boudreau, Town Administrator; the Lynnfield Rotary Club and Lahey Health.

“We have already had some very good discussions not only within the town but with neighboring towns,” Crawford said, adding, “We met with Wakefield and North Reading. I met with one of the primary coordinators of the coalition from Billerica. He was very helpful in explaining what you need to do. The primary step, besides getting members on the coalition, is finding a coordinator for the coalition.” They need one point person who could be the coordinator for the town, he said.

“Having a coalition like this offers more availability to these resources of what we offer,” Barrett said, adding, “I have just done a presentation to Everett City Council of what the city of Everett is doing on substance abuse and it’s pretty extensive.” Barrett is a school administrator in Everett.

Dalton thanked Crawford for taking this initiative, adding that he was “pleased to see Lahey Health” listed as a coalition member. “It is a public health crisis and I think Lahey Health being a part of it is a major step,” Dalton said.

Crawford said that a couple of local health professionals who are residents have stepped forward to help. “I know people are very concerned that want to join the coalition and be part of this. These 12 members are the minimum,” he said, noting that there is no maximum number who could join in the effort.

“Wakefield has 40 members, North Reading has 25. It can be as many members as we want. I encourage parents to be a part of it and also youth sport groups (as) they have the influence over many young people in town.”

Pat Campbell suggested that “high school students would have an ear to ground with some of these issues,” adding that a student who attends a community college or one who commutes to college may also be helpful to such a coalition, as would a family law attorney.

Crawford noted that at LHS student members of both Compass and the Health and Wellness group will be involved. “I’m meeting with them tomorrow,” he said.

“I would be looking for any interested parents and local businesses to work with the coalition,” Crawford said.

Anyone who is interested should contact Bob Curtin at Town Hall, he said. Curtin can be reached by email at or by phone at 781-334-9410.