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FRAMINGHAM – State Representatives Jack Patrick Lewis (Framingham & Ashland) and Maria Robinson (Framingham) sent a letter to Governor Baker on Monday asking that the State House flags be lowered to half-staff on International Overdose Awareness Day, commemorated on August 31.

This day is meant to bring awareness to the high number of overdoses around the world and to remember those who have lost their lives to the disease of addiction.

“Every single one of our families and communities have been touched by the opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Lewis. “While we have made some progress in combating the disease of addiction, more must be done at the local, state, and federal level. I call upon Governor Baker to not only lower our State House flags to half-mast but to urge the White House to do the same.”

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Last year, Team Sharing, a Marlborough non-profit, asked Governors to make an announcement recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day.

Five states including Massachusetts officially recognized the date.

Team Sharing also implored states to lower flags to half-staff on the day to
remember those who have lost their lives to an overdose. Only Connecticut’s Governor did so.

This year Team Sharing is focusing on getting all 50 states to recognize International Overdose Awareness Day and to lower their flags to half-staff.

“Since 2016, Massachusetts has lost over 2,000 lives annually to overdoses due to opioids. Although I am fortunate that my family’s personal journey with Substance Use Disorder has shown me recovery happens, I have witnessed too many families suffer and mourn in silence,” said Cathy Miles, Co-Founder of Framingham FORCE.

“The stigma and shame which too often accompany an overdose minimizes the value of the life that was lost. By displaying the flag at half-staff on International Overdose Awareness day we can show our families a well-deserved sign of respect and mourning,” said Miles.

“The casualties of the COVID-19 crisis have gotten attention, yet those lost to the opioid crisis tend to be less acknowledged,” said Rep. Robinson. “This action would let family and friends of those lost know that we have not forgotten the losses they have suffered.”

“Our Commonwealth and nation have seen thousands die because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, deaths that leave an absence in the hearts of all who knew and loved the recently passed,” stated the letter. “Yet our Commonwealth and nation has also lost thousands to the opioid
pandemic, over 770,000 Americans in the last two decades alone, and their deaths also leave a lasting, painful absence in our homes and communities.”

This final letter has been signed by a bi-partisan, geographically diverse group of 72 Massachusetts Legislators.

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Press release submitted to SOURCE

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.