Federal law enforcement and medical experts have warned local municipalities to prepare for the “The Fourth Wave” of the opioid epidemic. “The Fourth Wave” signals the rise of stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine alongside ever-present opioids. Every part of our community has grappled with the impacts of problem drug use.

Federal law enforcement agencies have warned that the flow of illegal drugs into our community will continue to rise and are encouraging municipalities to prepare for “The Fourth Wave” by addressing the demand for illegal drugs.

Before COVID-19, researchers estimated that six percent of Berkshire County residents are addicted to opioids. Local law enforcement agencies have indicated that they are seeing increases in drug overdoses believed to be a result of the stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office and the Berkshire Opioid Addiction Prevention Collaborative is hosting a virtual presentation from Dr. Daniel Ciccarone of the University of California detailing his street-based research and evidence-based interventions to problem drug use.

District Attorney Andrea Harrington is moderating the discussion featuring Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, professor, and physician at UCSF, Drug and Alcohol Counselor Christopher Maschino, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity Neighborhood Revitalization Director Dubois Thomas, Syringe Access Program Manager North Adams Tapestry Samantha Kendall, Healthy Steps Harm Reduction Supervisor Sarah DeJesus, Berkshire Opioid Addiction Prevention Collaborative Coordinator Jennifer Kimball and Cheshire Police Officer and NBEMS Paramedic Amalio Jusino on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m.

The presentation is on Zoom and livestreamed on the Berkshire District Attorney’s Facebook page - @BerkshireDA – and YouTube channel – Berkshire District Attorney’s Office.

The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office embraces the evidence-based harm reduction approach to address substance use in Berkshire County.

“We continue to be concerned that increased stress, a tanking economy, and the unraveling of the social service safety net resulting from the pandemic will worsen our drug problem,” District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.

“The punitive War on Drugs model damaged vulnerable families, furthered social inequity, and has failed to make our community safer. This is a must-see presentation and discussion for everyone in our community who has been impacted by and/or wants real solutions to problem drug use.”

Those who register and join through Zoom can pose questions during the event.

You can register by going here.

Residents can also submit questions ahead of time by emailing Contact.BerkshireDA@Mass.gov

District Attorney Andrea Harrington is Berkshire County’s chief government prosecutor and top law enforcement official. She and her staff of 22 prosecutors, together with their law enforcement partners, handle 7,600 criminal matters each year. She is Berkshire County’s sixth District Attorney, and the first female elected to this position.

Dr. Daniel Ciccarone is a board-certified clinician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine. In his position as Professor of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF, he has been principal or co-investigator on numerous NIH sponsored public health research projects including his current Heroin in Transition study. He is a recognized international scholar on the medical, public health, and public policy dimensions of substance use, risk, and consequences. He is an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Drug Policy and recently edited an IJDP special issue on the “triple wave crisis” of opioids, heroin, and fentanyl in the US.

For over 20 years "Dr. Dan" has been actively involved in expanding the use of clinical harm reduction technologies and services, e.g., naloxone and buprenorphine. He has provided harm reduction based clinical services at several SF syringe exchanges and was on the Board of Directors for the SF Homeless Youth Alliance.

Christopher Maschino is a drug and alcohol counselor, working in the field since 2017. He is working towards a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Endicott College and is awaiting certification as a drug and alcohol counselor. Chris has lived experience with opioid use disorder and has been in recovery since June 26, 2015.

Samantha Kendall is the Syringe Access Program Manager for the North Adams Tapestry. She was born and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and has worked in the Substance Use Disorder field for 5 years, specifically harm reduction for over 2 years. She attended school for Social Work at Berkshire Community College. She loves working for an organization that prides itself on providing crucial services, in a compassionate setting. She provides day-to-day programmatic oversight and supervises a team of Harm Reduction Counselors to ensure that services to the community are high quality, accessible, and non-judgmental.

Sarah DeJesus is the Harm Reduction Supervisor for Healthy Steps of Berkshire Health Systems and has worked in the field for more than 15 years.

Dubois Thomas is the Neighborhood Revitalization Director at Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity. His work is primarily focused on the Westside neighborhood of Pittsfield, engaging residents in an ongoing neighborhood planning/revitalization process. Dubois has over a decade of housing experience, working as a real estate manager, community organizer, and a housing counselor. He is also the Community Coordination Committee Chair of the Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP.

Jennifer Kimball is a Principal Planner for Public Health at Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and the Coordinator of the Berkshire Opioid Addiction Prevention Collaborative. Her areas of expertise are opioids, addiction harm reduction/overdose prevention, and the prevention of HIV/HCV and other infectious diseases related to substance misuse. She has been doing community organizing in Berkshire County around these issues since 2013. Ms. Kimball holds a degree in Social Justice from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Amalio Jusino has been involved with emergency response for 30 years. In 2005, he opened a consulting company and has been committed to breaking boundaries in emergency response. In 2015, Jusino as the Co-Chairman of the Northern Berkshire REPC was part of a team of REPC members recognized in Washington D.C. for their “no borders” approach to emergency management. Since then, Jusino has been a voice Nationally regarding Harm Reduction education and implementation of Narcan for police, fire, and the public and private industry. Jusino is also the Director of Strategy & Innovation of 3 Tribes technology and has worked with a development team creating communication platforms that allow for transparency and connectivity for first responders, emergency managers, and community housing associations. He is currently utilizing this technology to develop a platform that meets the ever-changing needs of the harm reduction community.

Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s office serves all 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County. The office represents the Commonwealth in more than 7,500 criminal cases per year in Berkshire Superior Court, three district courts, three juvenile courts, Massachusetts Appeals Court, and Supreme Judicial Court. The office works closely with the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force, and collaborates with local police departments across the county. A dedicated staff of more than 50 prioritizes public safety, empowering victims and witnesses through services and support, and building a safe community for everyone and especially the most vulnerable.

(information taken from a press release that was sent to WSBS from the Berkshire District Attorney's Office for online and on air use) 

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