Taunton Launches Plan To Fight Heroin After Dozens Of Overdoses
TAUNTON (CBS) - Monday night, more than 100 people packed the auditorium at Taunton's Friedman Middle School. Among them, two mothers, both named Susan, and who've both been locked in a battle. "We'd been fighting drugs for five years," said Susan Cyr. "He went off by himself and he took heroin and he died." Her son, Eric, died January 24th in his car alone in a pharmacy parking lot in Taunton. "I don't want his death to be in vain. I want to stop somebody else's son or daughter from dying," she said. There have been 64 overdoses in the city traced to heroin just since the beginning of the year. Five people, including Susan Cyr's son, have died.
That's why she came to the community forum aimed at combating the abuse of heroin. The panel included the Taunton Police Chief, the Bristol District Attorney, the Superintendent of Taunton Schools and representatives who treat heroin addicts and help their families get through the ordeal. Susan Malloch-Taylor knows the fight all too well. "It turns your world upside down. All of a sudden, my daughter was a heroin addict," she said. "There's a stigma around it for the families. It's a big secret and no one wants to talk about it, but we have to talk about it," she said. When she found out about the event, she wanted to tell her story in hopes of helping other parents. "About a month ago a friend, a dear friend of my daughter's passed away from an overdose and I said we got to stop this. We got to talk about it," she said.
Malloch-Taylor encouraged parents to talk to their children, confront them if you suspect their using. Tell them about the devastating effects of drugs, including heroin. Her daughter's addiction began with a trip to the dentist. She started with prescription pills and when those got too expensive, it turned into heroin. She's been clean now for eight months, but that came after going in and out of treatment 50 times. "It has devastated our family and I don't just mean our immediate family, I mean our whole family. It hasn't destroyed us because we haven't allowed it to, but it's financially taken a toll. We've spent every penny on her recovery," she said.
Taunton Police have launched a strategic plan to fight heroin, which includes coordinating enforcement with federal, state and local law enforcement partners. Officers will also work with landlords to help them evict tenants found to be selling drugs. Susan Cyr supports their efforts, but says she also wants to see tougher penalties for those who sell drugs that lead to death, like in the case of her son. "I'm going to try to get the laws changed so that the dealers are accountable for their deaths," she said. She says the man who sold her son his heroin knew it was laced with the narcotic, Fentanyl. She says two other people who bought it overdosed, but were saved because they weren't alone when it happened. She stayed after the forum to talk to the Bristol District Attorney, Sam Sutter, about her son's case.
The five deaths in Taunton are among more than 80 nationwide traced to heroin since the new year began.
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