By JEN CARDINES
The Plainville Coalition for Positive Youth Development held a substance abuse forum last week at the Middle School of Plainville.
Members of the community were invited to speak with specialists, gather resources, and ask questions about the growing drug epidemic.
Local organizations such as Wheeler Clinic, the YMCA, Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, Narcotics Anonymous, Farrell Treatment Center, and others set up booths with information for attendees.
“Our coalition has one mission, and that is to promote a community environment that enables young people to positively shape their lives,” said Roberta Brown, coalition co-chair. “We do this by focusing on prevention and community awareness.”
The panelists were from different community sectors, and even included the Commissioner of the Connecticut Dept. of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon.
Dr. Charles Dike (DMHAS medical director), Victor Incerti (chief program officer, Community Mental Health Affiliates), Jonathan Coe (Plainville High School assistant principal), Allyse Madey (person in recovery), Chiara Ramos (family member of overdose victims), and Detective David Posadas (Plainville PD) made up the rest of the panel.
“We tried to pull together as many experts in the field as we could,” said Lynn Davis, who co-chairs the coalition with Brown. Each person was able to speak about substance abuse from the angle of their area of expertise.
Detective Posadas said that within the past few months of 2017, there have been seven instances of overdoses. “All of our officers are carrying Narcan and in five of those cases it was administered on-scene,” he said.
While many facts and figures were displayed on the big screen, the audience drew their focus to Madey when she recalled her years as an addict. She told the crowd how she started as a young high school student and the consequences she faced for her actions. Madey has been living drug-free for the past four years.
Ramos also gained the audience’s attention when she spoke about multiple people in her life that passed away due to overdoses. Her personal story emphasized the danger with drugs and how it affects many people. Gesturing to herself, she said, “This is an epidemic if this one person had so many people from her world die.”
Drug overdoses are the leading cause of unintentional deaths in the United States and over 20 million people suffer from substance abuse problems. “It’s a timely issue,” Davis said. The coalition works to continually educate students and parents in the community to “improve the landscape of youth,” offering programs whenever possible, said Davis. “Through events like this we can equip the community with top information.”