There are a lot of facets to tackling the opioid addiction and overdose crisis. A coalition has been formed in Danbury to address the public health issue. MCCA Director of Prevention Terry Budlong says this issue hasn't hit a plateau yet and is still on the rise, so it can't yet decline. The coalition received a $5,000 community mini-grant opportunity as part of the state's response to the public health crisis.
More than a thousand people in Connecticut died from an accidental opioid overdose. The typical victim in Connecticut is a whIte male between the ages of 30 and 59.
The partnership includes the Danbury Police Department. Chief Patrick Ridenhour says they have a prescription drug drop box in their lobby, available 24-7, in order to help keep unwanted and unneeded medication out of reach of those who may be vulnerable. He says this also ensures proper disposal and destruction.
On a legislative level, Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey says they have passed laws allowing any licensed health care professional to administer the overdose reversal drug Narcan and allowed pharmacists to prescribe Narcan, including making sure first responders, teachers and school bus drivers have access. Prescriptions of opioids are now capped. Good Samaritan laws have been extended to those who help overdose victims.
There is also a connection to the schools. Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says it really does take a village to keep a community safe. They are having the athletic director and counselors reach out to parents.
Danbury Public Schools, Police Department and Emergency Services have teamed up with Stand Together Make a Difference, Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse, and M-C-C-A to create an awareness video about the misuse of opioids.