In the face of a nationwide opioid crisis, the City of Malden is grateful to announce that through the implementation of a range of innovative strategies that target prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support, opioid overdoses have been reduced. Malden Board of Health Addiction Recovery Resource Specialist Paul Hammersley working with various stakeholders, including local government, law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers, community organizations, and concerned citizens has developed a coordinated response that has resulted in Malden’s overdoses dropping by roughly 20 percent compared to 2022. The number of individuals seeking treatment and entering recovery has also increased.
One program that has had a tremendous impact citywide is Malden Cares, a program developed by Hammersley and the Malden Board of Health in conjunction with non-profit Malden Overcoming Addiction. Malden Cares provides Recovery Coaches that are on the street daily in targeted areas who directly engage with residents while providing recovery resources as well as assistance with food insecurity and homelessness.
Mayor Gary Christenson has also established an Opioid Task Force which meets monthly – members include the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Malden’s Board of Health Director, Recovery Coaches and members of Malden Overcoming Addiction. The monthly meetings serve to analyze overdose patterns and deaths during the previous month, discuss outreach and determine where to focus efforts for the next month. The Malden Cares Team then diverts to areas of the city where overdoses are more prevalent to work with residents and individuals to offer help, services and provide resources. The Opioid Task Force is currently working with the Melrose Wakefield Hospital with the goal of establishing recovery coaches in its emergency rooms to meet with patients who are transported by ambulance for overdoses.
In addition to raising awareness and educating the community about the risks associated with opioid misuse the city has developed public education campaigns and “stop the stigma” events targeting the K-8 schools emphasizing the danger of addiction that can result from any amount of use of drug use. Educating our youth before they enter high school is key to the effort and the city currently partners with Cambridge Health Alliance to bring recovery coaches to the Student Based Health Center at Malden High School.
Law enforcement agencies in Malden have adopted a compassionate and proactive approach, recognizing that individuals struggling with addiction need support rather than punishment. The city employs an officer who is diverted to calls to assist individuals who are drug impaired and works to encourage them to accept treatment rather than facing criminal charges. This approach not only has reduced the burden on the criminal justice system but helps individuals access the help they need.
Another way Malden is working to assist individuals in recovery is to understand the importance of long-term support for individuals in recovery. The Bridge Recovery Center located at 239 Commercial Street is a peer-to-peer recovery support program where individuals with lived experience provide guidance, encouragement, and practical assistance to those in recovery. The city is also working through Career Services Coordinator Kashawna Harling who engages area businesses to facilitate employment opportunities, and trains individuals to assist in reducing barriers for people seeking to rebuild their lives.
Malden is committed to doing the hard work needed in the struggle against the opioid crisis. Through collaborative efforts, innovative strategies, and a commitment to prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery, Malden hopes to continue its goal of reducing opioid abuse, saving lives, and fostering a resilient and supportive community. For more information on Malden Cares or recovery services available through the City of Malden, please contact Paul Hammersley at 781-838-2203.
Pictured: Malden Board of Health Addiction Recovery Resource Specialist Paul Hammersley with members of Malden Cares