The opioid crisis has been officially declared a “national health emergency,” by President Trump, but it has long been a local one here in Massachusetts, where, for years, opioid-related deaths have exceeded the national average. In just the past three years, opioid overdoses have claimed the lives of more than 4,000 Massachusetts residents.

As part of our "Hear at the Library” series, we asked people at our WGBH studio at the Boston Public Library if they’ve been personally affected by the opioid crisis. Here’s some of what we heard:

I used to have the notion that people with addiction could stop; they had the power to say, 'I'm not going to do this anymore,' and if they just had the will power, they could make it happen.

-Dr. James Baker, a Massachusetts physician and epidemiologist who lost his son Mackey to a heroin overdose


Our whole family was torn to pieces struggling to help Mackey and maintain our own relationships. My relationships with my other children and me were damaged and hurt. It really caused difficulty in our family and some of those difficulties persist now.

It wasn't something anyone would have expected. He was a really bright kid. No one else in the family has ever had addiction problems … It has continued to just derail his life, over and over.

-Joan Sugihara, whose nephew has struggled for years with heroin addiction 


She started overdosing and she, I think, was revived with Narcan at least four times … She just couldn't control it. She somehow had a family doctor — they would give her as much as she wanted … the idea was 'nobody should live in pain.'

-Barbara Price, whose sister became addicted to painkillers when she was in her mid-60s


I feel I didn't get to really figure out who I was because I was so busy being high all the time ... It's hard to be careful, to be honest. It can happen to anyone.

-Marina Race, a college student who says she became dependent on marijuana, which she now believes can be a gateway drug