Brien official, DA Harrington to explore area’s opioid crisis

(Evan Triantafilidis)

LENOX — Since Portugal’s decriminalization of the possession of all drugs in 2001, the Western European nation has seen drug use stabilize and its prison population decrease from 44 percent in 1999, to just under 21 percent in 2012, according to Portugal’s Institute of Drugs and Addiction.

A harm-reduction approach to the issue of drug abuse, compared to a criminal approach, has caught the eye of numerous law enforcement officials, including Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington.

In a forum exploring the local impact of the opioid epidemic, Harrington, alongside Dr. Jennifer Michaels, medical director of the Brien Center, will discuss how law enforcement and medical professionals are handling the issue at Lenox Town Hall on Sunday, Aug. 18 from 9.30 a.m. to noon.

Harrington was one of more than 20 prosecutors from across the country to travel to Germany and Portugal as part of an international site study hosted by Fair and Just Prosecution, a nonprofit organization that works with newly elected prosecutors.

“In our courts, if I had someone charged with a drug-related offense, they’d be expected to stay drug-free,” said Harrington of the current criminal justice system.

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