Currently in Greater Lowell, there are three grant-based coalitions that are focused on substance abuse prevention efforts. Two of the three grants address efforts throughout the Greater Lowell communities and beyond, and one of the grants works specifically within the Lowell community.
Within these unique Greater Lowell initiatives, clusters of communities join together to share resources, coordinate activities, and actively address opioid misuse and underage drinking through prevention efforts.
Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative (MOAPC)
The mission of MOAPC is to implement local policy, practice, systems, and environmental change to prevent the use/abuse of opioids; and prevent and reduce opioid overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, and increase both the number and the capacity of municipalities across the Commonwealth addressing these issues.
The Greater Lowell MOAPC Coalition is led by the City of Lowell and includes the towns of Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Lowell, Tewksbury, Westford, and Wilmington.
As a coalition of towns, programs, and organizations, MOAPC has:
- In conjunction with SAPC, introduced Evidenced Based Prevention Programming across eight towns. These efforts have included facilitation of trainings for teachers, counsellors, administrators, School Resources Officers in public schools, religious education leaders, after school programs, and summer camp leaders;
- Provided financial support for materials and training hours for Evidenced Based Prevention Programming;
- Facilitated coordination of existing treatment agencies across the Greater Lowell area;
- Provided leadership in the planning and development of the Merrimack Valley Substance Use Disorder Symposium. In 2018, the Symposium brought together over three hundred representatives from the substance use treatment and prevention fields;
- With the Lowell Police Department, facilitated quarterly Unwanted Medication and Sharps Disposal Day events (amounting to over 400 lbs of unwanted medications being safely removed from the community between 2018 and 2019);
- As individuals or as a group, provided substance misuse awareness and education within each of the seven MOAPC coalition towns;
- Continual support for ongoing trainings and education opportunities for MOAPC coalition members. This enables the coalition to remain apprised of the latest and most effective methods of intervention as well as developing trends in the field.
Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative (SAPC)
The mission of SAPC is to prevent underage drinking and other drug use in our youth. Our concentration is on universal prevention through the implementation and/or amendment of local policies, practices, systems, and environmental change. By addressing the issue of underage drinking, we will reduce the risk that youth will go on to use opioids and/or other substances.
Within these unique initiatives, clusters of communities join together to share resources and coordinate activities to address opioid misuse and its related consequences as well as underage drinking.
The Tewksbury SAPC Coalition is led by the Town of Tewksbury and includes the towns of Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Lowell, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, Westford, and Wilmington.
Partnerships For Success (PFS)
The Lowell Health Department was awarded the PFS grant in 2016 to help combat the opioid epidemic within the City. From this grant, the PFS Coalition was created to focus on the prevention of the non-medical use of prescription medication amongst high school aged youth. In addition, the PFS Coalition focused on the safe storage and proper disposal of medications for parents and guardians; this is done through educational programming, awareness campaigns, and collaboration with community partners throughout Lowell. The PFS Coordinator and Coalition work closely with other City entities and community partners to provide prescription medication misuse prevention education. Prevention education is engaged through multiple efforts to ensure sustainability and effectiveness in order to stop the abuse of substances before it starts amongst Lowell youth.
What has the PFS Coalition been working on?
- Conducting an educational workshop series with CTI YouthBuild covering the topics of substance misuse, HIV/Hepatitis C transmission prevention, mental health, and overdose prevention.
- Conducting informal educational sessions through UMASS Lowell about prescription medications to better inform students about the risks associated with improper use
- Working with City departments to implement opioid use prevention education across Lowell schools.
- Supporting and promoting the Lowell Health Department’s quarterly Unwanted Medication and Sharps Disposal Days to promote proper disposal of unwanted medications in homes to prevent potential misuse by youth.
- Educating the Lowell community upon request about a variety of topics surrounding substance use, including prescription medication misuse, overdose prevention, and where to get help for yourself or a loved one.