Educational Forum on Opioid Epidemic

EAST HADDAM – State Representative Melissa Ziobron (R-34), in collaboration with the Middlesex County Chapter of The Roadway of Hope, recently hosted a community forum on opioid addiction and NARCAN training demonstration.

Mark Jenkins, Executive Director of the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition (GHHRC), conducted an interactive training in which attendees learned first-hand how to recognize a need to administer Naloxone, as well as how to physically administer the life-saving drug. NARCAN was made available by the GHHRC, as well as Jack Herman of Nathan Hale Pharmacy who was also on site to dispense NARCAN to attendees as requested.

“I wanted to make sure that residents not only recognize a situation when to use this life-saving drug, but also how to use it,” said Rep. Ziobron. “As this has unfortunately become more and more evident in our community, it is important that we understand how to save the lives of those so close to us in such a pressure-intense situation.”

Upon the conclusion of the training, Rep. Ziobron moderated a panel discussion – the third of its kind hosted by Ziobron – that involved local and state advocates and professionals on the issue. The panel included the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Kim Richards, Founding Board Member of The Roadway of Hope, The Middlesex County Chapter, Ana Gopoian, Founder and Executive Director of TriCircle Inc., and Tad Varas of Roots To Addiction.

“For too long, people living with addiction and their loved ones have lived in the shadows or been too afraid to talk about addiction,” said DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon. “Events like last night’s naloxone training and discussion on addiction are an opportunity for us to come together not only to discuss the issue, but to better understand it and work towards lifesaving solutions.”

“Special thanks to State Representative Melissa Ziobron for making this happen,” said Kim Richards. “GHHRC, Mark Jenkins, did an amazing job with the Naloxone training. It was an honor to speak with my Co-panelist’s Roots To Addiction, Tad Varas, TriCircle, Inc., Ana Gopoian and DMHAS Commissioner, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon. The Roadway of Hope will keep fighting to combat this opioid crisis with prevention education and eliminating stigma. Lives matter.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this forum and bring forth some very real concerns,” added Gopoian. “My hope would be to have access to a list of beds that is updated on a daily basis, visible and accessible for the public to see. This does already exist but it’s not accessible to the public. The window of time a person‘s willingness to actually wanting help is small and if the resources were more accessible we could have better outcomes. I believe we should be working together with a higher level of accountability – this is not a competition. But in saying that, the funding streams, including insurances, are limited. This disease needs the time, and the resources that all other diseases have to achieve success.”

Tad Varas added, “This epidemic is claiming the lives of people on a daily basis. There are ways to receive help. If you, or someone you know is struggling with the disease of addiction, please reach out and ask for help. Recovery is possible!”

For more information about the GHHRC, TriCircle Inc., Roots To Addiction, or The Roadway of Hope, please contact the representative at Melissa.Ziobron@housegop.ct.gov or call (860) 240-8700.