HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A plea from police departments all across Connecticut came on Saturday — National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
“It’s so important that we do everything we can to safeguard people from getting ahold of prescription and nonprescription drugs that they may use in a manner that’s harmful to them,” said Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo.
What he just described is how Cici Iliff tells NEWS8 she lost her son, Ben at 28. Ben got caught up in the web of addiction.
“When Ben was actively using, he was always looking for things in my home, in people’s homes, that he could use to get the high that he needed to get. The chemistry in his brain was changed. His brain was hijacked,” Illiff said.
She added, “You don’t want to be the one that supplies your child with an addictive drug that gets them started on something more fatal and much bigger.”
Christine Gagnon lost her son, Mike, to addiction after a football injury.
“Michael did use prescription drugs and once that was not easily obtained, then went on to other drugs,” she said.
Today, Iliff and Gagnon have teamed up with Ana Gopoian to help those suffering from Substance Use Disorder and families of loved ones who are addicted or lost someone to addiction. They run TriCircle, Inc. — an organization that allows them to turn their pain into something positive by helping with support groups and providing them with resources.
“Whether you have someone in your life or it’s your child you’re not alone,” Gagnon said. “There is help.”
Gopoian says their work is more important now than ever before thanks to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“One on one connections — people being isolated is just a whole ‘nother layer of increased need for the support of mental health — let alone substance use disorders. It’s pretty crazy.”
As of the filing of this report, there’s no information yet as to how many prescription drugs were safely turned in at police departments across Connecticut.
Last year in Waterbury alone, Chief Spagnolo says they collected 49 and a half pounds worth of prescription and non-prescription drugs that were safely discarded. The DEA says last year, nearly 442 tons of medication was turned in across the country.
For those of you who turned in medication across Connecticut on Saturday: “You very much could’ve saved someone’s life by doing so,” Iliff said.