Parent Connection Fast Tracking Forum On Fentanyl
With an estimated 107,000-plus drug overdose deaths in 2021 — more than 1,500 in Connecticut — and no signs of that trend slowing this year, organizations from the CDC to the Newtown-based Parent Connection are working to help communities understand how fentanyl is playing such a prominent role in taking so many lives.
Parent Connection is an organization dedicated to educating and empowering the community in the prevention of substance abuse, and to embrace families in crisis.
Founder Dorrie Carolan is seeing how drug addiction and the increasingly deadly component of fentanyl is cutting so many lives short. She is mobilizing experts to help parents, educators, and caregivers understand and be better equipped to recognize why today, experimentation or sampling of various types of drugs can be as lethal to first timers or casual recreational users as it is to those who are already deeply entrenched in addiction.
The number of drug overdoses and related deaths and hospitalizations among those reaching out to Parent Connection mirrors the trend Connecticut has been seeing in recent years.
Fentanyl-involved overdose deaths increased significantly in 2019 to 82%, compared to the previous years of 2015 to 2018, the DPH says. In 2020, the average percentage of fentanyl involved deaths was 85% and this percentage remained same for 2021.
"Based on the overdoses, relapses, and outreach of community members to our organization for assistance or support, Parent Connection feels the necessity to bring the community together," Carolan told The Newtown Bee this week.
More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, setting another tragic record in the nation’s escalating overdose epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated just last week. The provisional 2021 total translates to roughly one US overdose death every 5 minutes.
It marked a 15% increase from the previous record, set the year before.
And last year, overdoses involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids nationally surpassed 71,000 — up 23% from the year before. There also was a 23% increase in deaths involving cocaine and a 34% increase in deaths involving meth and other stimulants.
According to Kavita Babu, MD, who published a report on May 10 for the UMASS Chan Medical School, from May 2020 to April 2021, more than 100,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, with over 64 percent of these deaths due to synthetic opioids like fentanyl and its analogs.
"Buying drugs on the street is a game of Russian roulette," Babu said. "From Xanax to cocaine, drugs or counterfeit pills purchased in nonmedical settings may contain life-threatening amounts of fentanyl."
'Dare To Discuss Drugs'
So, what are parents and concerned community members to do?
On Wednesday, May 25, at 6:30 pm, at Newtown Middle School, Parent Connection hopes to provide some answers along with tools and tactics to help prevent the needless and preventable tragedy of drug overdoses. Carolan is planning a presentation entitled “Dare To Discuss Drugs,” facilitated by John Hamilton, LMFT, LADC. Hamilton is CEO at Liberation Programs, Inc.
"We invite the entire community to the Newtown Middle School auditorium from 6:30 to 8 pm to hear what has been taking place and what we need to do to keep our community safe," Carolan said. "John brings years of expertise as a counselor and leader in the field of substance abuse prevention and treatment."
The organization is also making Narcan kits available for attendees while supplies last.
The discussion will help community members:
*Learn how to be proactive with their children, no matter what age, regarding substance abuse prevention;
*Learn about the dangers of vaping;
*Discover how to collaborate with other concerned citizens to help address this critical issue in Newtown and the surrounding areas; and
*Learn about what programs are available locally for support.
"Join this community conversation and see how you can 'Be the Change.' The time is now to get educated and empowered to make a difference, and what you learn COULD save a life," Carolan said.
For further information, call 203-270-1600, and stay connected by visiting CTParentConnection.org