PDDH Hosts Opioid Awareness and Resource Day on Saturday, June 8

Pomperaug District Department of Health (PDDH) invites all area residents to a free symposium on June 8 at Pomperaug Woods in Southbury, the latest effort in the Health District’s ongoing campaign to raise awareness of the nationwide opioid crisis and connect people in need to resources and treatment options. This half-day conference is the culmination of the Health District’s ROAR Initiative in partnership with the US Public Health Commissioned Officers Foundation.
ROAR, or Regional Opioid Awareness and Response, kicked off last year with a series of Narcan trainings and community educational sessions, organized through Local Prevention Councils, including Southbury Middlebury Action Responsibly Together (SMART) and Oxford Addictive Substances & Information Services (OASIS), as well as the Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse (HVCASA).

In addition to the US Public Health Commissioned Officers Foundation, grant funding for these efforts has been secured through the CT State Department of Public Health.

Director of Health Neal Lustig says that strong partnerships and the expansion of regional coalitions has been instrumental in raising awareness of overdoses and deaths in this region of CT. “The national opioid epidemic knows no boundaries,” he says, “the town of Southbury had seven overdose deaths in 2018, according to the latest information released by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.” “This is an all-hands on deck situation,” he says, “school officials, parents, law enforcement, chief elected officials, clergy members, and citizens from all walks of life need to be involved.” Residents are urged to connect with their respective local prevention council (LPC).

Medical Reserve Corps volunteers from Pomperaug Health District are assisting with ROAR efforts, along with Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members serving Woodbury and surrounding towns. Also contributing to PDDH’s social media and community outreach efforts is a dedicated service member from AmeriCorps/Prevention Corps, housed at PDDH’s Southbury office, in partnership with HVCASA.

ROAR Resource Day speakers include: Jennifer DeWitt, HVCASA behavioral health director; Maria Coutant-Skinner, executive director of the McCall Center for Behavioral Health; Robert Lawlor, drug intelligence officer with the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program; Jesse Mancione, a licensed professional addictions counselor with Aware Recovery Care in-home addiction treatment services; and others. A multitude of health, medical, and treatment specialists will be on hand to address questions and concerns, including registered pharmacist Matthew Carrano from Market 32 in Oxford.
Attendees will learn about the latest treatment options for people who struggle with substance use disorders; alternative strategies will be discussed for people seeking to manage pain due to chronic health conditions; and options for safe disposal of prescription medications will be outlined, including DEA DrugTakeBack Days and DropBox locations. Resources, such as drug testing kits, will be distributed free-of-charge by LPC representatives.
Residents of all ages are welcome to attend the ROAR event. Registration is not required, and breakfast will be provided to all attendees. “This is a low-key opportunity for residents to get real-time, accurate information regarding overdoses in their towns,” according to Director of Health Neal Lustig. “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to link people to the information and resources they may need,” he says, “in a judgement-free setting.” One of the most notable successes of the ROAR Initiative, he asserts, is the reduction of stigma with regard to substance use issues.
Limited space also is available for area providers who wish to distribute relevant resources at the ROAR event. For more information, please call 203.264.9616.