Event aims to make Cheshire parents more aware of drug use

Event aims to make Cheshire parents more aware of drug use

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CHESHIRE — An event planned later this month at town hall aims to teach parents how to recognize when a child might be using opioids and other drugs.

Maura Esposito, director of health for the Chesprocott Health District, said she is excited for the event, which state Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, has also had a large role in organizing. It is on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Esposito and Linehan said the program will include a “Hidden in Plain Sight” exhibit, which they described as a mock-up of a child’s bedroom. Organizers purchased common items, like a water bottle, to show how drugs might be hidden in innocuous appearing objects.

Parents will be able to walk around the exhibit, pick up different objects and open them up, she said.

“It’s a tool to teach parents what to be aware of,” Esposito said.

Experts with Western Connecticut Coalition, the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Wheeler Clinic, as well as Cheshire police officers and others will be on hand to answer questions and provide training on administering narcan, the medication used to reverse overdoses.

“We are bringing together a lot of resources and material, including where you can go to get the help you need,” Esposito said.

Linehan said she is hoping to empower parents. At the same time, she would also like to discourage medical care providers from over-prescribing painkillers.

“What we need to do is make sure that parents are aware of the dangers [posed by] prescription medication even though they are prescribed by a doctor,” she said.

Esposito plans to present the most up-to-date data on opioid-related deaths in Cheshire over the past few years, adding there have been at least 11 non-fatal overdoses within that time span.

According to data compiled by the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, four Cheshire residents died from opioids in 2018.

Esposito said the data shows victims are getting younger. The number of female overdose victims is also increasing.

She encouraged families to utilize drug take-back events to reduce access to opioid medications. Residents can drop off unused prescriptions in a secure drop-off box located in the lobby of the Cheshire Police Department building on Highland Avenue. 

“This is happening not just in our cities, but also in our towns,” Linehan said, in describing how prevalent the issue is.