(UPDATED March 3) Between comments on Facebook to feedback sent in from readers in response to our weekly Question of the Week column, a discussion for the proposal of “drug education” is reoccurring.
At a Board of Aldermen Public Health and Safety meeting on Wednesday, March 2 4th Ward Aldermen Jim Capra and Interim Police Chief Shawn Sequeira discussed re-implementing a form of drug education back in the public school system.
Sequira said the idea is still in the planning phase, but after meeting with Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet earlier in the week they both agreed there is undoubtedly a need for a class.
“We’re going to hold a crime prevention workshop during the day for students and faculty,” said Chief Sequeira. “We’re going to try and do the same workshop over at the high school, as well as try to hold a parent night.”
Sequeira said the ultimate goal of holding this workshop would be to better educate the community.
“It’s not just about who is using these drugs, but how identify signs that your child may be experimenting, what resources are available, and what other people in the community are affected by it,” said Chief Sequeira.
Capra said his goal is to make Shelton the role model town of how to overcome the current heroin epidemic.
State Rep. Ben McGorty said he is currently working on multiple bills that will affect who can administer “Narcan”, which is an opioid reversal drug.
“I believe that education should start in elementary school, on to middle and then high school. There should be monthly meetings between parents and teachers and students,” said Valerie Augerot Colao, whose kids were in the Shelton School system, in response to a Question of the Week post on Facebook questioning the need for the education classes.
“This problem has gone on way too long in Shelton with it just being swept under the rug. I know it seems to some that this headline is shocking, but the problem of heroin in Shelton has been around for many, many years. We need to address it now. I hope all will attend the meeting on March 3. We need to come up with a plan for our children’s lives,” said Colao.
State Rep. Jason Perillo said the drug issue is not a problem unique to Shelton or the region and the users aren’t easy to as some stereotypes may lead one to believe.
“Heroin has become an epidemic throughout New England. Today’s user isn’t just the proverbial ‘troublemaker.’ It’s your next-door neighbor. It’s your cousin or even your child. It’s destroying lives and families,” said Perillo.
Medical services have made efforts to combat the opioid effects. Narcan, which is an opioid reversal drug, was administered approximately 2,000 times in Connecticut from 2012 to 2014, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
In 2015 in Shelton, alone, paramedics transported 32 patients who had overdosed to area hospitals, according to the Valley Emergency Medical Services.
On Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m., Perillo, Ben McGorty (R-122) Laura Hoydick (R-120), JP Sredzinski (R-112), and State Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-21) will be hosting a community discussion on Connecticut’s opioid addiction crisis in the R.D. Scinto Auditorium at 1 Corporate Drive in Shelton.
Residents are encouraged to attend this forum to express their opinions, suggestions, and concerns with their community leaders.