The Board of Incorporators is actively working on a schedule for our next coalition meeting, speaking programs, our web and social media campaigns, and additional support services. This newsletter is to provide you with some updates and information to keep the conversation going.
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Missin Matt walk in Milford Sept 12

Dear :

The S.A.F.E. Board of Incorporators is actively working on a schedule for our next coalition meeting, upcoming speaking programs, our web and social media campaigns, and additional support services. This newsletter is to provide you with some updates and information to keep the conversation going.

In the meantime, a great event coming up is the Missin Matt Walk in Milford which will take place on Saturday, September 12 at 11 am. I have registered along with my colleague Rep. John Fernandes (D - Milford) and was hoping you would join us for this important event to raise awareness.

Consistent with the mission of our S.A.F.E. coalition, we will walk for a couple of miles, listen, learn and be a part of the solution to the opioid crisis plaguing our communities. It is in remembrance of Matthew A. Bertulli, who died on November 3rd, 2012 at the age of 27. His young life was abruptly ended by a heroin overdose.

As Kattie Truit (Matt's mom) put it: "We walk for Matt, we walk to bring education, we walk to help stop the judgment, we walk to give hope and we walk to help. Our goal is to make a difference in our community."

You can join us and register by clicking here or on the image above. Help us get a large crowd at the event and spread the word.

Community of HOPE (Healing ourselves, preserving each other) has begun meeting on Monday evenings at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 262 Chestnut Street in Franklin at 7 p.m. The group offers support for families struggling with addiction and recovery. Its preserves anonymity and creates a safe place for people and families in crisis. 

Starting in September, the Missin Matt Foundation will host a family support group meeting every Wednesday night in the Milford Hospital. The program will feature a 12 step Big Book workshop for those suffering from addiction.

Healing Hearts has begun meeting on Thursday evenings on the second floor of the Franklin YMCA at 45 Forge Hill Road in Franklin at 7 p.m. The group offers support for families struggling with addiction and recovery. Its preserves anonymity and creates a safe place" for people and families in crisis. 

Dr. John Kelly talk

Dr. John Kelly, Harvard professor and Massachusetts General Hospital addiction expert, spoke at our second coalition meeting about the mechanisms of, and strategies for, combating and de-stigmatizing substance abuse disorders.

We had a great turnout and Dr. Kelly described that addiction is caused by several factors, including genetic predisposition and exposure to the drug itself. Drugs, Kelly said, can short-circuit the reward pathways of the brain and cause the release of dopamine, a chemical that causes pleasure.

"(The pathways) developed to make sure we feed ourselves, stay alive, reproduce, engage with other people," he said. "People tend to like the effect (of drugs), and people find it very hard to cope with the abnormal release (of dopamine)." The brain adapts to the high levels of dopamine by becoming less sensitive to it.

"When a person is addicted, they can't sense the normal levels or reward," he said. "This dysphoria means people find it extra hard to stop using the only thing they remember will help them."

Dr. Kelly's talk was followed by a panel discussion and audience engagement. It was a remarkable educational experience and helped increase awareness about addiction, and helped put us on a pathway to finding a cure for this disease.

For the Milford Daily News report on the meeting, click here. For the Franklin Matters report which includes the PowerPoint slides, click here. You can view the video from the event by clicking here or on the image above.


A coalition member recommended the book Dreamland for reading. In the book, author Sam Quinones chronicles how, over the past 15 years, enterprising sugar cane farmers in a small county on the west coast of Mexico created a unique distribution system that brought black tar heroin--the cheapest, most addictive form of the opiate, 2 to 3 times purer than its white powder cousin--to the veins of people across the United States.

Communities where heroin had never been seen before--from Charlotte, NC and Huntington, WVA, to Salt Lake City and Portland, OR--were overrun with it. Local police and residents were stunned.

How could heroin, long considered a drug found only in the dense, urban environments along the East Coast, and trafficked into the United States by enormous Colombian drug cartels, be so incredibly ubiquitous in the American heartland? Who was bringing it here, and perhaps more importantly, why were so many townspeople suddenly eager for the comparatively cheap high it offered?

Dreamland is a scathing and incendiary account of drug culture and addiction spreading to every part of the American landscape. You can learn more about the book and author at

Franklin schools curriculum

At the last coalition meeting, a question came up about what is happening in the schools relative to substance abuse. Kristin Cerce, the health and physical education director for the Franklin Public Schools, descrivbed it as follows:

We talk about substance abuse at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Our primary focus is on alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco, but we do educate students about other drugs in both middle and high school. The lessons that we teach are dependent on the needs of our students, as identified in the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey.

At the elementary level, students primarily learn about alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription/non-prescription drugs, as well as refusal skills. They learn strategis to avioid using substances inlcudining drugs and alcohol. K-2 teachers discuss prescription and over the counter drugs, instructing students on how to take medicine safely and cautioning them that they should only take medicine if a trusted adult gives it to them. The curriculum for grades 3-5 focuses on how drugs affect the body, the dangers of drugs, drug and alcohol refusal skills, and how to make good choices. Teachers typically do not name harder drugs, such as opiates, but if a student brings up the name of a specific drug, they will answer the studentís question. The DARE program goes into other drugs in more depth than our program. Students participate in the DARE program in grade 5.

Throughout middle school, teachers focus on a spectrum of drugs in greater depth than elementary school. These drugs include alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, bath salts, cocaine, steroids, prescription/non-prescription drugs, and opioids. Lessons focus on refusal skills, the dangers and risks associated with drug use/abuse.

Wellness students (grades 9 and 10) study drug abuse in greater detail. Again, lessons are designed based on the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey. Survey results indicate that these are the ages at which students are inclined to experiment with alcohol and marijuana more than other drugs.

Wellness 9 specifically focuses on alcohol and marijuana, because they are common “gateway drugs.” Lessons address legal issues associated with theses drugs, as well as impaired driving, sexual assault, addiction, social host laws, related diseases, and other resulting injuries.

Wellness 10 reviews topics covered in Wellness 9 and serves as a general overview of drug abuse classifications. These drug classifications include: stimulants (cocaine, crack, caffeine, amphetamines), depressants (alcohol, barbiturates, cannabis), hallucinogens (ecstasy, LSD, mushrooms, “date rape drugs”), narcotics (prescription/non-prescription drugs, opioids, heroin, morphine), inhalants, and tobacco (smoking and smokeless). Students typically participate in drug research projects and presentations.

The full health/PE curriculum can be viewed by clicking here.
Join UNITE to face addiction at the rally in Washington, DC on October 4.

UNITE to Face Addiction rally in DC

UNITE to Face Addiction is a grassroots mobilization of individuals, communities, and organizations coming together to face addiction and stand up for recovery. It is committed to the inclusion of all diverse representations of culture and experience across all affected families, groups and communities.

On 10.04.15, a rally of tens of thousands of people will be held on the National Mall in Washington, DC where we will let our nation know that addiction is preventable and treatable, that far too many of those affected have been incarcerated, and that people can and do get well.
The UNITE to Face Addiction host committee consists of individuals like the Honorable Patrick Kennedy and Chris Herren. Supporters of UNITE to Face Addiction Campaign invite you to join in on this transformative event. Musicians Joe Walsh, Steven Tyler with his Nashville-based band Loving Mary, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell, The Fray, and John Rzeznick of the Goo Goo Dolls will be joining us on October 4 in Washington, D.C. These performers share our passion for understanding the impact of addiction and the power of recovery, and we are so proud to have their support.

Also joining us to UNITE to Face Addiction will be health expert and television host Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has just released a PSA in support of our event. Additional performers, celebrity guests, and special speakers will be announced in the coming weeks, so be sure to check our website and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest announcements.

Transportation is available to the event. You can view the options by clicking here.

If you would like to more information please feel free to go to and check out the resources, event details, and FAQS

The Fix: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 5:30 PM
Sullivan Auditorium
Worcester State University

Worcester State University is hosting a screening of The Fix, followed by a panel discussion. The film features Junior, a young father trying to turn his life around after years of heroin addiction. Junior joins forces with a group of former injection-drug users in the Bronx to fight the disease in their community.

Knitting personal narratives together with a profile of innovative programs at a methadone clinic, the film explores the concept of storytelling as an instrument of change and gives a powerful voice to a marginalized population.

Ultimately a very personal story of redemption and hope, The Fix puts a human face on addiction and disease with sensitivity and grace.

Russell Brand: BBC documentary All About Drugs

Cannabis, booze, acid, speed, coke, crack, heroin... Russell Brand took drugs every single day. At one point he started being afraid of the fact that he might die. He was told that if he continues like that, in six month time, he's going to be dead, in prison, or in an asylum.

He got clean at the age of 27, the age Amy Winehouse was when she died. Amy's death was a paradoxical, unsurprising shock, and Russell felt like he could have done something to help.

That's why he made a film, to have a sympathetic look at alcoholism and addiction, a condition that the World Health Organization regards as a disorder. He reckons that drugs and alcoholism are much misunderstood by users, non-users, and the government. He thinks that we need to start regarding addiction in all its forms as a health issue as opposed to the judicial and criminal issue. In this film he wants to learn more and see if we can do things differently.

Brand meets a whole range of people from whom he draws insights - scientists at the cutting edge of research into the psychology of addiction, those involved in innovative recovery treatments and drug addicts themselves.

Is addiction a disease? Should it be criminalized? And is abstinence-based recovery, which worked for Brand, a possible way forward? In this documentary Brand challenges conventional theory and practice as well as government policy in his own inimitable style, confronting the reality of addiction head on.

Along the way he draws on his own experience to try to help one of the addicts he meets to take the first steps towards recovery. Armed with his own heartfelt beliefs and new insights gained during his journey, Brand has the opportunity to change the hearts and minds of policy makers when he is invited to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee investigating the efficacy of current drug addiction treatment in the UK.

You can view the video by clicking here or on the image above.
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