The New Year is a time for a fresh start, a time to reflect, take inventory and set priorities for the months ahead. At the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, we have been doing just that, working with our valued donors and local nonprofit partners to better understand the critical issues at hand, those that need our attention and focus in 2016. In addition to supporting the many community programs and services in our region, we are also prioritizing our efforts to raise awareness and address new issues that are affecting each and every one of our towns. The rising abuse of opioids is one of these initiatives.
Did you know three out of 10 teenagers believe prescription pain relievers – even if not prescribed by a doctor – are not addictive? Did you know the risk of opioid abuse in young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years has doubled in the last decade? Did you know that between 2009 and 2014, there were over 2,000 accidental and unintentional opioid-involved deaths, including heroin overdoses, which occurred in 150 of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns?
These startling facts, along with an in-depth panel discussion, were presented at “Opioids in Our Communities: A Wake-Up Call”, a community forum held on January 19 at the Community Health Center in Middletown. In attendance were experts from state and community-based behavioral health, prevention, and law enforcement agencies. All agreed that our community – the fifteen towns in Middlesex County – is not immune to the growing problem, that the crisis will not go away easily, and as a community working together to educate our neighbors and children, we can and will find new solutions to create a positive impact for our future. The first and a very simple step that we can all take is to get involved with our local prevention councils; Middlesex County has a total of eleven serving the towns of Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, Essex, East Haddam, Haddam, Killingworth, Middlefield, Middletown, Portland, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook.
The opportunity to help raise awareness and start a dialogue about opioid abuse and prevention is a direct result of the Community Foundation’s ongoing partnership with local nonprofits such as Rushford and the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council. Funding support for the forum came from a grant from the Arthur and Edythe Director Family Fund for Rushford at the Community Foundation. The Director family established the fund to help find positive solutions and support services for everyone in Middlesex County, particularly our youth. The Directors believe, quite simply, that together, with a commitment to working with neighbors and other Foundation supporters, issues can be addressed and our communities will be safer and healthier.
We can all play a part in helping improve the quality of life for all, whether it is participating in community discussions, providing funds to support a passion or area of interest, or volunteering your time for a worthy cause. Get connected to what’s happening in your community by calling the Community Foundation of Middlesex County at 860-347-0025 or emailing us at info@MiddlesexCountyCF.org.
This article was previously published in February, 2016, in both the Valley Courier and the Harbor News.
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