Calls for city to cleanup Methadone Mile after student walkout

BOSTON — Addiction treatment experts say the so-called Methadone Mile area has historically been a hotspot of drug abuse. Boston has worked with nonprofits to cluster services there, resulting in better access to treatment, but more addicts clustering in the area using.

Students at nearby Orchard Park Elementary School held a walkout Tuesday to protest the dozens of needles left near the school.

>> School walkout focuses on safety threat of discarded needles

"It's a tough balance. Child safety is really important. We want to make people feel safe. There's no question that that's a priority for us. But we also want to make sure we remember that we're fighting a disease," said Health and Human Services Chief Marty Martinez.

The school has been forced to teach the lesson to students because of how often they come across needles.

"Orchard Gardens are in an area where there are a lot of challenges. There are a lot of things going on from services, recovery programs and treatment programs," said Martinez.

According to a recent study, one in 20 older children and adults in Massachusetts have an opioid abuse disorder. Health officials say Boston is no different than any other community.

But what if you break up the cluster of services?

According to the National Institutes of Health, Methadone treatment has federal oversight. Cities like Boston don't have jurisdiction over them.

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"Is there a conversation around changing the way that work is done?" Boston 25 News reporter Crystal Haynes asked Martinez.

He said, "Yeah, I mean it's really trying to figure out how do we have a comprehensive plan to think about our services. And that's what we're doing today. I think we all know the Mayor's committed many resources especially to rebuild Long Island Bridge to create a recovery campus there and part of that effort is doing a comprehensive assessment to figure out where should services be."