Martin Walsh proposes city office to help combat addiction

Boston mayoral candidate state Representative Martin J. Walsh proposed creating a city Office of Recovery Services to help people combat addiction.

Walsh’s campaign issued a statement Monday outlining the office, which would help people find detox beds and provide a 24-hour referral line. Walsh is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for the last 18 years.

Walsh is not the first mayoral candidate to propose a city office targeting addiction. In the spring, City Councilor John Connolly suggested a similar effort – with the same name.

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“You shouldn’t have to know a politician to get access to a bed in a recovery facility,” Connolly said at his campaign kickoff at the Omni Parker House on March 20. “I will create an Office of Recovery Services focused on working with private and non-profit partners to support and expand recovery programs.”

The full release from Walsh’s campaign follows below:

“Meeting with my Public Health policy team over the weekend, it became apparent that establishing an Office of Recovery Services at City Hall, in the Boston Health Commission, is imperative. I share this idea today, before we start releasing all of our policy briefs, because the subject is so important to me. As my team laid out their research on the wide range of issues and services we will address in a Walsh Administration, it became all too clear that there aren’t enough detox beds, and accessing services that are available is trying and can be overwhelming for addicts in need and their families.

“My Office of Recovery Services will focus on navigating the system for addicts, enabling their use of the services critical to recovery. We’ll work to identify additional detox beds for Bostonians ready to take that critical first step. We continue to work out particulars, but the Office of Recovery Services will provide a 24-hour referral line, and will advocate for more and better delivery of services.

“Over the past two months, when I haven’t been out at the 250+ events across the city I’ve attended since my campaign started, or out knocking on doors, I’ve been in kitchens and living rooms talking to the over 100 volunteers – practitioners, experts, academics, and neighborhood folks, who make up my policy teams. They, in turn, have interviewed over 500 people – advocates and service recipients crossing a wide range of neighborhoods and interests, who have given us some great ideas and feedback. Stay tuned. As we work toward September 24, we will begin to announce collaborative and innovative policy initiatives across approximately 20 areas.

“I am running for mayor because I love this city, and I believe government is about serving people. This is one very personal way I can do that.”