Waterbury ambulance crew, mother discuss opioid crisis on the streets

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Ambulance crews at Trinity Health of New England’s EMS headquarters in Waterbury said they’re responding to overdose emergency calls almost daily.

“It’s like we’re an army of a very few and we’re battling a big giant out there,” said EMT Amelia Packard. “I’ve had a few bad calls.”

News 8 is exploring the problem of drugs and overdoses on the streets ahead of National Prescription Drug Takeback Day, which is Saturday. Numerous police departments across the country, including Connecticut, are offering a safe place for people to dispose of their unwanted pills and medication at home.

Christine Gagnon of Southington wanted to speak out to News 8 before the event. She said the day is significant because many people who suffer from substance use disorder start by getting their hands on unwanted pills or medication remaining in medicine cabinets at home.

“Prescription pills that are hanging around, that are opioid-based, if they are open and children have the ability to get at them… can develop into an addiction,” she said.

Christine said her son Michael lost his life due to substance use disorder. He was 22. She said he started on the path of addiction when he was a teenager and suffered a football injury.

“My son was in recovery and he had a mistake and in that mistake — that one mistake — cost him his life,” she said. “He went to get a drug and instead of the drug he intended to buy, he was given pure fentanyl.”

Christine now helps to run a group called TriCircle, Inc. It’s a resource for other families that lose a loved one due to substance use disorder.

That’s why she says National Prescription Drug Takeback Day is so important.

Check with your police department to see if they are participating. The departments usually have a storage bin where you can safely dispose of your unused medication.

In April, 4,425 law enforcement agencies across the country took part in a similar effort — the DEA Prescription Drug Takeback Day. That effort removed 839,543 pounds of prescription drugs from communities across the country.

According to a survey cited by Naugatuck Police, 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers and the majority of misused prescription drugs came from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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