Like so many communities, Trumbull has seen the growing impact of the opioid crisis.
The effects on Trumbull can be measured in lives lost and the physical, emotional and financial stress on individuals struggling with addiction, as well as their their families, the town’s first responders and its resources. Last year, four Trumbull residents died of accidental overdose, police responded to 22 overdose calls in 2016 and, in the last few years, 356 Trumbull residents were admitted to treatment for opioid addiction.
The Trumbull Partnership Against Underage Drinking & Drugs (TPAUD) is working with community partners to “Change the Script” on opioid abuse.
Change the Script is a statewide program that connects town leaders, healthcare professionals, treatment professionals and everyday people with resources they need to face prescription drugs and opioid misuse — to help rewrite the story about how a community faces the opioid epidemic.
TPAUD Program Coordinator Kiersten Naumann explains that a $5,000 grant from the State of Connecticut’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), is helping TPAUD to expand prevention activities, engage new sectors of the community and optimize the partnerships that already exist.
Access to medications is a big piece. According to TPAUD’s latest student survey, 46% of high school students reported that prescription drugs would be “easy” to access without a prescription. Parents and adults are encouraged to keep all over-the-counter and prescription medications in one location and using a combination safe, locked cabinet or locked drawer—not the bathroom medicine cabinet.
Unwanted medications can be safely disposed of at TPAUD’s medication drop box, in the lobby of the Trumbull Police Department. Last year, 1,000 pounds of unwanted medications were collected through the dropbox, which is available 24/7 to the public.
In addition to proper disposal and storage, Change the Script encourages open dialogue between patients and doctors about drug interactions with opioids and alternate approaches to pain management.
“Part of this campaign is to encourage the public and physicians to have a more open conversation as it relates to opioids,”said Dena Miccinello, TPAUD’s Americorps Opioid Prevention Corps member. “We are sending letters to local providers and offering our group as a partner and resource to them.”
In February, TPAUD and Trumbull EMS held a Naloxone trainings for the public, with free Narcan kits available. More trainings of the life-saving drug are on the horizon.
TPAUD will also be spreading the word on “Change the Script” with information at both upcoming school and community events, including a March 28 forum with The First Selectman’s Task Force on Health and Wellness. The event features Andrew McKenna, author of “Sheer Madness: From Federal Prosecutor to Federal Prison.” The program, at 7 p.m. at Madison Middle School, will discuss the perils of untreated mental health issues and the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Naumann explains the program is one part of an upcoming series on mental health and addiction.