Hanover: Symposium on Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

Doctor Mark Alliegro talks about the causes of addiction at the symposium.

Doctor Mark Alliegro talks about the causes of addiction at Thursday’s symposium


In Hanover, Representative David DeCoste for the 5th Plymouth District organized a symposium on opioid and substance abuse and how Ballot Question Four — the proposal to legalize marijuana  – impacts it.

Held at the St. Mary’s Church, a panel of speakers discussed how people become addicted, steps taken to combat substance abuse, and recovery programs in the area.

Speakers included Doctor Mark Alliegro, a former professor at Brown University and candidate for Congress in the 9th District, Representative Hannah Kane from Governor Baker’s “No on 4 Committee,” Plymouth County Sheriff Joe McDonald, and Pat Moskowitz from Learn to Cope.

“Many people are unaware of the specifics of Question 4, and people need to be aware of what the resources are for addiction — for families facing addiction and for individuals who are addicted,” said DeCoste.

The symposium lasted more than an hour, attendees were able to ask questions at the end.

Doctor Alliegro said addiction impacts nearly everyone.

“I’ll bet you there were a number of people in this room, who didn’t say anything, who have either children or siblings who have faced this,” said  Alliegro. ”I have. I used to have a sister long ago, and I don’t anymore, and it was from heroin addiction.”

As Sheriff for the last 12 years, McDonald said he’s seen the damage that substance abuse causes.

“Not just by the opiates and the other drugs, but also by alcohol,” said McDonald. “These things destroy lives. We need to regulate them, we need to regulate them properly. We need to be smart about this.”

Representative Kane told attendees that Ballot Question 4 would create more problems.

“It’s more about the commercialization of marijuana than the legalization,” said Kane. “My suggestion is that we vote ‘No’ on it and allow the legislature to go back to the drawing board with all parties at the table.”

Moskowitz a facilitator at Learn to Cope, a support group for family and loved ones of addicts, concluded the symposium.

“I needed support, I needed my own community. I needed to learn how to cope with my son’s addiction,” said Moskowitz. “I had not done it very well, up until I joined. You try to do it yourself, you think you’re reasonably smart person, so you look for your own information. But there’s power in numbers. I found Learn to Cope and I have not looked back since. It has been tremendously helpful to me.”

Learn to Cope meets each Thursday in Hanover at 7:00 PM at the South Shore Vocational Tech Library. Representative DeCoste says he plans on holding similar events in the late spring or summer.

About Lenny Rowe

Lenny Rowe is one of the newest additions to the WATD News team. Lenny has won two Edward R. Murrow awards for breaking news coverage, and a Mass. Broadcasters Award in the sports feature category. He grew up in Pembroke and was an intern at WATD in 2012. A 2016 graduate from Suffolk University, Lenny now lives in Rockland. Outside of WATD, Lenny covers high school sports for The Boston Globe. Lenny can be reached at Lenny.Rowe30@Gmail.com.