New Group Formed to Fight Opiate Crisis Hosting Erase the Stigma Week

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In an effort to raise awareness that the opiate problem is not just a problem in other parts of the U.S. or in big cities, but also in Watertown, the Health Department joined with the several other departments and organizations to create Erase the Stigma Week.

From Oct. 18 to 25, events will be held to spread the word about the crisis that has claimed the lives of nine Watertown residents this year. Events will be held at schools, as well as ones for the whole community.

The events have been coordinated by (Watertown Access to Treatment Educcation and Resources on Substance Use Disorders) – a  combined effort by the Town of Watertown, the Watertown Public Schools, service organizations, prevention advocates, treatment providers, clergy, individuals in recovery, concerned families and first responders.

“We want to make sure people are aware of the effort to erase the stigma of addiction so those in need can ask for help,” said Donna Ruseckas, Director of Wellness & Extended Services for the Watertown Schools.

The week will have several events, but the big one will be “Coming Together to Erase the Stigma” on Wednesday, Oct 21 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Watertown High School Gym.

Open to all ages, the evening will feature comedian Jack Lynch and guest speakers giving testimonials, talking about recovery resources, a slam poet and a PSA viewing. There will be pizza and refreshments, raffles and live theater.

A media campaign will also accompany the Erase the Stigma week, including billboards featuring members of Town departments working to stop opiates, doctors and substance abuse councilors and the Watertown school nurses.

Schedule of Events

All week you will see the Red Ribbon Campaign, in an effort to erase the stigma. Ribbons are available at the Watertown Library by calling 617-926-3600 ext. 0.

Oct. 18: Houses of worship will discuss opiate addiction in the community. For more information call 617-926-2931.

Oct. 20: “Learn to Cope” discussion for family and friends at 7 p.m. at Watertown Free Public Library. Call 781-254-1280 for more information.

Oct. 21: Watertown High School students will view the movie “If Only” and hear a speaker who is recovery from addiction. Get more details by calling 617-926-7705.

Oct. 21: The community event, “Coming Together to Erase the Stigma” from 6-8:30 p.m. in the Watertown High School Gym. The event is for all ages, and there will be free childcare for children ages 3 and up.

Oct. 23: Improbably Players will perform at the middle and high schools. Call 617-926-8124 for more information.

For more information about Erase the Stigma week or help, call the Watertown Health Department at 617-972-6446. Or visit or

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