As reported in the New Boston Post, opioids are killing Massachusetts residents at an alarming rate.

Several agencies have taken the fight beyond simply arresting suspects and confiscating illicit substances, including heroin and cocaine. They are dramatically changing their approach and taking the conversation on the “war on drugs.”

The number of opioid overdose deaths rose 8 percent to 1,379 in 2015 from 2014. It was more than double the number recorded in 2010.

According to Kerri Quintal, a family and juvenile lawyer in North Attleboro, “It is an epidemic and it is a disease.” Attorney Quintal has has worked with addicts and their families for nearly 20 years. “It doesn’t make sense to keep putting people in jail and not getting them the help they need,” she said. “It’s costing taxpayers a lot of money.”

Key components of a new Massachusetts opioid law will be part of a “national model” for addiction prevention. The law Massachusetts Gov. Baker signed in March limited first-time opiate prescriptions and all opiate prescriptions for minors to a seven-day supply. Gov. Baker called the legislation “the most comprehensive measure in the country to combat opioid addiction” and said its provisions could serve as a “template” for other states.

In addition, there is an outreach initiative that has taken its inspiration from a Gloucester, Ma.  “angel” program, which encourages addicts to surrender their drug supply and paraphernalia to police without fear of arrest. The department subsequently helps addicts find treatment, working with volunteers.