OPIOIDS

In a windowless classroom at the John J. Moran medium-security prison in Cranston, R.I., three men sit around a table to share how and when they began using opioids.

For Josh, now 39, it was when he was just 13 years old. "I got grounded for a week in my house, so I grabbed a bundle of heroin and just sat inside and sniffed it all week."

"I started using heroin at 19," says Ray, now 23. "I was shooting it. It was with a group of friends that I was working with, doing roof work."

The opioid epidemic cost Massachusetts $15.2 billion in 2017.

That startling tally, a combination of expenses and lost labor, is explained in a report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF). It’s the first to offer a thorough assessment of the economic damage caused by rising opioid use and deaths in Massachusetts. The authors say it’s a conservative estimate because they couldn’t find data to measure some considerable costs.

In a rare move, Suffolk County, New York is suing the family that owns Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma over their role in the opioid crisis.

Federal prosecutors in Hillsborough County have begun to toughen penalties for fentanyl traffickers as part of a nationwide program called  "Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Surge pilot program during a stop in Concord this summer.

A new opioid tracking program reports an average of 42 overdoses a month in a section of Hartford.

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