The Gloucester Police Department in Massachusetts has been receiving tons of praise since it decided to stop arresting drug users who turn themselves in back in June.



Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.


The program — which was designed to funnel addicted persons into treatment instead of prison — is already seeing signs of success: Over 100 people have received care, and the department has been able to keep costs well below expectations.

In fact, the initiative has been so well received that it's already begun spreading to other communities around the region.

Gloucester is just one community in New England — and across the country — suffering from an opioid epidemic.

Photo by Be.Futureproof/Flickr.

According to Andrew Kolodny, senior scientist at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, prescription drug and heroin abuse has exploded in the United States over the last 20 years, resulting in approximately 220,000 overdose deaths between 1999 and 2013.

“An enormous number of people … have lost their lives as a consequence of this epidemic," Kolodny told Upworthy, "And just to put that number into some perspective, that's [well more than] twice the number of Americans who died fighting in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined."

The Gloucester PD soon realized that solving this crisis meant confronting not only the drugs themselves, but the drug companies that make them.

Last week, the department published the names and contact info for the five highest-paid pharmaceutical company CEOs in America on Facebook and asked followers to (respectfully) give them a call:

"Don't get mad. Just politely ask them what they are doing to address the opioid epidemic in the United States and if they realize that the latest data shows almost 80% of addicted persons start with a legally prescribed drug that they make. They can definitely be part of the solution here and I believe they will be ... might need a little push."

A spokesperson for the Gloucester Police Department declined to comment further for this story.

What do drug companies have to do with this? And why are so many people developing addictions to "legally prescribed drugs?"

Photo by Luis Garcia/Wikimedia Commons.

According to Kolodny, beginning with the introduction of OxyContin in 1995, pharmaceutical companies began aggressively selling opioid painkillers, once used primarily to manage patient pain at the end of life, to hospitals and physicians for the treatment of chronic pain and exaggerating their benefits and downplaying the risk of addiction.

“There were many involved in this who truly fell for the campaign," Kolodny said. "It was compelling. There was this idea that we've got this gift from Mother Nature. Opioids [could prevent] people from suffering needlessly … and so the prescribing exploded."

Kolodny and his colleagues tracked the effects of pioid overprescribing in a recent study, which casts doubt on the assumption that addicted young people acquiring opioids illegally are the primary drivers of the epidemic. Their evidence demonstrates that, "middle-aged and elderly individuals commonly exposed to OPRs for pain treatment have experienced the largest increase in rates of opioid-related morbidity and mortality" since the late 1990s.

Inspired by their police department, the residents of Gloucester sure did give Big Pharma a "little push." And according to the chief, it worked.

On Sept. 18, 2015, Chief Leonard Campanello of the Gloucester PD announced via Facebook that Pfizer — one of the three largest pharmaceutical companies in the world — had agreed to meet with the department:

"Pssst ... Pfizer called (honestly) ... we are meeting with them. When you continue to make your calls, thank them because they could have ignored us all. Instead, within 48 hours ... they responded.

A Pfizer spokesperson confirmed that representatives from the company plan to meet with Campanello.

There's no word yet on the outcome of the conversation, but an open dialogue is a good beginning.

Photo via Unsplash/Pixabay.

If a police department can learn that arresting people isn't a cure for addiction, hopefully drug companies can learn from past mistakes too and start implementing some real, long-lasting solutions.

Bravo to the Gloucester PD for taking the first, important step in bringing much-needed relief to a group of people who badly need it.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

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A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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