(UPDATE) Education team and law enforcement to hold informational events for opioid abuse

A group of officials representing Shelton schools, law enforcement, community service and healthcare met to plan activities for staff, students and parents that will address the epidemic of opioid abuse in the region Thursday, March 31.

Acting Police Chief Shawn Sequiera, Pamela Moutte of VSAC, Board of Education chair, Mark Holden, Sylvia Rodriquez of Youth Services, and the head masters of SHS and SIS among others joined Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet to discuss the challenges and to plan informational events.

Board of Education Chairman, Mark Holden said the group discussed holding “closed door” sessions where press is restricted to assure anyone from the public’s privacy.

The first community event is planned for May 9 at 6:30 p.m in the auditorium at Shelton Intermediate School. There will be focused presentations from the viewpoints of healthcare professionals, law enforcement officials and educators. There will be ample opportunity for questions from the audience. This will be the first in a series of events, according to Superintendent Dr. Chris Clouet.

The alliance between education, law enforcement, community and healthcare services is meant to help educate parents and students on the dangers of opioid drugs, according to Holden.

“We’re looking to form a Substance Abuse Action Council to help combat the problem. Our focus is not on law enforcement but on taking steps towards helping the kids by educating them and working with the parents,” said Holden.

He added that the group discussed the importance of focusing on prevention and education during their March 31 meeting.

“Frankly it’s much easier to prevent a problem then trying to solve one,” said Holden.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) website, since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids.

Local police have stated that the availability of the drugs is a part of the problem. Heroin can cost anywhere from $2-5 on the street.

“You can’t even get a cup of coffee for that price,” said Holden.

In January of this year, the CDC, “analyzed multiple causes-of-death mortality data to examine current trends and characteristics of drug overdose deaths, including the types of opioids associated with drug overdose deaths.”

In 2014, a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, representing a 1-year increase of 6.5%, from 13.8 per 100,000 persons in 2013 to 14.7 per 100,000 persons in 2014. The rate of drug overdose deaths increased for both sexes, persons aged 25–44 years and 55 years or older, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks, and in the Northeastern, Midwestern, and Southern regions of the United States. Rates of opioid overdose deaths also increased significantly, from 7.9 per 100,000 in 2013 to 9.0 per 100,000 in 2014, a 14% increase.
Members of local law enforcement and the community are optimistic in the effects that informational meetings will have on the overall opioid epidemic.