Published in the March 14, 2019 edition

WAKEFIELD — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that almost 16,000 opioid-related deaths occurred in Massachusetts from 2000 to 2017, with 2,913 in Middlesex County during that timeframe. In 2018, Wakefield Police responded to more than 100 calls related to substance-use issues. The crisis is not unique to Wakefield, and the town has launched an innovative program aimed at curbing these statistics.

Through a partnership with Eliot Community Human Services, Wakefield welcomes Tracy Ascolillo as a part-time recovery coach to support residents with substance-use issues. Tracy will help individuals navigate the care system, build relationships throughout their transition, and help support behavior changes in their journeys toward recovery. Our recovery coach will also provide consultation to the Wakefield Police Department and Wake-Up (Wakefield Unified Prevention Coalition) on prevention efforts and best practices. Through the support of Town Administrator Steve Maio and the Town Council, her services will be available immediately.

In this pioneering model, Tracy will be introduced to potential clients through the police department, family members, or social services. Individuals will work with her to identify their own goals for treatment. Tracy’s expertise allows her to introduce treatment options that best address her clients’ identified needs and preferences, and guidance and support is continued through all phases of the recovery process. A key component of this program is the coach’s ability to demonstrate personal recovery experience while modeling effective coping techniques and self-help strategies. This empowers her clients to exercise autonomy in their daily lives.

The town has maintained a relationship with all of our mental health providers, most notably Eliot Community Human Services, with whom we contract a part-time, licensed mental health counselor. Since 2012, Jennifer Waczkowski has worked with the Wakefield Police Department specializing in emotional, mental health, and substance abuse issues. Recovery coach Tracy Ascolillo will add another valuable layer to our current resource system.

Tracy Ascolillo can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 781-879-2117. Additional information about the program can be found at