NEWINGTON - Town staff are combating drug abuse from the inside out, with several upcoming events.
Local residents can be trained to administer Narcan, an antidote to opiate overdose, on March 26 at 5:30 p.m. at Rocky Hill High School. They will learn overdose prevention strategies, signs and symptoms, and collect support and resources to protect themselves and a loved one who suffers from addiction.
Human Services Director Carol LaBrecque has joined with Rocky Hill Youth and Family Services coordinator Laurie Stanczyc on the initiative.
People who have a loved one using opiates are urged to attend the free training, since overdoses have risen rapidly in recent years.
“Most people have known somebody who has been touched by the disease of addiction,” LaBrecque said. “It can devastate individuals and families.”
Participants will leave with kits containing the prescription counteragent, distributed by Tom Stein, representing the Capitol Area Substance Abuse Council.
Also at the school that same evening at 6, there will be a Community Forum on Opiate and Drug Addiction hosted by state Rep. Tony Guerrera. RSVP to 860-240-1377.
Both events are being funded by a targeted response grant from the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The learning continues on Wednesday, April 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., when Newington Human Services, in collaboration with the Youth Adult Council and the Central Connecticut Health District, will present “Rx Drug Abuse” in the Newington High School Event Center. Teens and adults are encouraged to attend.
CCHD Director Charles Brown will lead the evening, providing a context of substance abuse in Newington and the Central Connecticut region.
The presenters will be 26-year-old Alyssa Madey, a Berlin native who overcame a struggle with addiction and is now a thriving student at Central Connecticut State University.
“She’ll share her story of going from a casual party environment to getting hooked on drugs and her road to recovery,” LaBrecque said.
Madey will be followed by Iran Nazario, founder of the Peace Center of Connecticut, a nonprofit hub for agencies that combat gang violence. A substance abuse counselor, Nazario will discuss escaping a life fueled by gangs and drugs.
“Our whole thought was from a prevention perspective,” LaBrecque said. “Illicit drug use is not in high numbers in Newington at this point, but our hope is that if we share this information early enough with youth and families, we can be part of the prevention.”
Many people are prescribed painkillers after injuries and become dependent on them, she pointed out. Others experiment with prescription drugs found in the home.
It may not be a widespread issue here, but in different parts of the U.S., the numbers are striking.
“Nationwide, 2,000 youths use prescription drugs to get high for the first time every day,” LaBrecque said.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.