Statement from Julie Burns, President & CEO of RIZE Massachusetts

June 8, 2022


RIZE Massachusetts, an independent nonprofit foundation working to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, is deeply saddened by the latest state data on opioid-related deaths. Each number represents a life lost to a disease that affects individuals and families from all backgrounds. While there is hope and progress with preliminary data showing a decline in deaths in the first quarter of 2022, the overdose crisis continues to evolve. RIZE’s priorities include bolstering our behavioral health workforce so that it can effectively deliver care – without stigma – to all people with addiction disorders, and supporting harm reduction services, which focus on keeping people who use drugs alive and as safe as possible. Providers must consider the other aspects of an individual’s life – poverty, racism, classism, social isolation, sexual exploitation, and other inequities – in order to treat the whole person and reduce the likelihood of overdose. Above all, we need to recognize that treatment is not one-size-fits-all; it should be guided by science and respect the dignity of the individual.