FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2015
Safe Homes Coalition Launches Program in Middlesex County
The Greater Boston Association of REALTORS®, Millennium Health, Learn to Cope, Middlesex County Police Chiefs, Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan partner to reduce prescription medication deaths
FRAMINGHAM – Today, a number of Middlesex County police chiefs and law enforcement officials joined Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan, Representative Tom Sannicandro, Representative Carolyn Dykema, and Framingham Town Manager Robert Halpin to welcome a new partner in the fight against prescription drug abuse and addiction: area realtors.
The Safe Homes Coalition joined area law enforcement and drug prevention leaders to announce a new program in Greater Boston designed to reduce the abuse of prescription medication and overdose deaths. The Safe Homes Coalition leads a unique partnership comprised of the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (a division of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board), Learn to Cope, Millennium Health and local government and law enforcement leaders. The Coalition also includes organizations representing: the medical, dental and health care communities; recovery advocates; youth athletics; and other community partnerships.
“We need to prevent prescription medications from getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, especially those most vulnerable – our children. The Safe Homes Coalition educates and empowers people to understand how to safely secure and dispose of unused or unwanted medications,” said Gregory A. Stein, Safe Homes Coalition Executive Director. “The Safe Homes Coalition brings together organizations throughout the Commonwealth to help stem this epidemic.”
“This partnership reflects a collaborative effort to educate realtors and the public about what they can do to address the opioid crisis,” said District Attorney Ryan. “In order to fight this public health crisis we have to work together. In Middlesex County we are using a multi-pronged solution that uses every tool at our disposal: education, prevention, intervention, treatment, enforcement and legislation; this program will be an important piece of that approach.”
“As parents and neighbors, we used to be concerned about our kids and their friends raiding the liquor cabinet. Today it’s the medicine cabinet,” said Sheriff Koutoujian. “By removing unused medications, we can help make our homes, neighborhoods and communities safer while saving lives in the battle against prescription drug addiction.”
“This issue is not exclusive to any single demographic, economic class, or region. This is an issue we’ve taken head-on with the Legislature and our partners in law enforcement, but we’re still seeing epidemic levels of this addiction,” said Rep. Sannicandro. “The partners who have come to the table with the Safe Homes Coalition support what we know: We need all stakeholders to buy in to creative programs like this to begin to stem this tide.”
Children are particularly vulnerable, as 90% of addictions start in the teenage years. The Partnership for Drug Free Kids reports that one in six teens has used a prescription drug not prescribed to them in order to get high or change their mood and prescription drugs are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12 and 13-year olds.
Preventing access to prescription drugs is key to addressing the public health epidemic this nation is facing. The Safe Homes Coalition’s Keep Kids Safe Program provides education and awareness around this issue and distributes reusable, re-sealable bags to real estate professionals for their clients to use to secure prescription medications while their homes are being shown to potential buyers. This program educates the public about the need to safeguard their prescription medications, as they would any other valuables, prior to opening their homes to potential buyers or others.
The Safe Homes Coalition received commendation by the California State Senate in 2014 for its work in San Diego, distributing more than 10,000 bags and educating the public through presentations at community events. Greater Boston is the second location for Keep Kids Safe and the Coalition plans to distribute another 10,000 bags, participate in educational events throughout the region, and release other multimedia educational materials.
To learn more about the Greater Boston Keep Kids Safe program, to partner with us, to request a a speaker for an educational program in your community, to obtain Keep Kids Safe bags, or to donate, visit http://makeitasafehome.org/boston.
“They call this ‘Generation Rx.’ I’ve been doing this for many years and I’ve heard so many stories about how people can become victims without even realizing that their medications can be accessed in these open houses. Prescription drug addiction reaches all demographics, and the face of drug addiction has changed – this could be a man in a business suit or a woman in nurse’s attire. Any opportunity we have to intervene and stop medications from getting into the hands of the wrong people is a welcome solution, and I love the mission of the Safe Homes Coalition.” (Joanne Peterson, Founder of Learn to Cope)
“As advocates for our communities, REALTORS® have a long history of involvement in programs designed to improve the lives of local residents. It’s also part of our members’ training and ethical duty to protect the welfare and best interests of their clients. Our association is excited to be partners in this initiative to help reduce opportunities for misuse and abuse of prescriptions medications, and we wholeheartedly support the Coalition’s goal of creating safer homes and communities for our children.” (David McCarthy, broker-owner of Keller Williams Realty Boston Metro and President of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors®, a division of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board)
“Education and awareness around the dangers of medication misuse and abuse has been a cornerstone of Millennium Health’s outreach efforts since our founding in 2007. This unique Coalition, building on successes in San Diego, provides a unique opportunity to focus on one community that has been particularly hard hit, providing a simple solution to address this complex public health crisis our nation faces.” (Nikhil Nayak, Chief Marketing Officer of Millennium Health)
“At the Gavin Foundation, we know that a multifaceted approach is absolutely necessary when addressing substance abuse. We’ve seen instances of prescription drug abuse grow at an alarming rate, and we attribute that – in part – to access to these medications. We need creative programs like the Safe Homes Coalition to explore ways to cut off these access points.” (John McGahan, President & CEO of the Gavin Foundation)
Additional coalition partners include public safety officials, public health experts, recovery advocates, the medical community, elected officials, and others.
- Leadership Partners
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
- Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey
- Massachusetts Medical Society
- Gavin Foundation
- Celticare Health
- Supporting Partners
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids
- Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association
- Association for Behavioral Healthcare
- Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery
- Massachusetts Association of Health Plans
- Tufts Health Plan
- Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare
- Massachusetts Dental Society
- Massachusetts Sheriffs Association
- Additional Supporters
- Governor Charlie Baker
- Mayor Martin J. Walsh
- Attorney General Maura Healey
- Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan
- Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian
- Suffolk Sheriff Steve Tompkins
- Senator Jennifer Flanagan
- Senator John Keenan
- Representative Dan Cullinane
- Representative Mark Cusack
- Representative Liz Malia
- Representative James Murphy
- Representative Carolyn Dykema
- Representative Tom Sannicandro