Police and community come together to fight heroin problem

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NEW LONDON COUNTY, Conn. (WTNH) — New London police make two arrests and seize heroin along with other drugs during a raid Monday afternoon.

29-year-old Stephanie Fialco and 26-year-old Brian Rodriquez were arrested after the month long investigation.

The state lab will determine if the heroin they’re accused of selling caused the recent spike in heroin overdoses and deaths.

“We’re finding 60, 70, 80-year-olds hooked on this. Something needs to happen,” says Joe de la Cruz who along with his wife Tammy are founding members of a new non-profit tackling an old problem.

“We have people in our group that this happened to their kids eight, seven, eight years ago and they’re wondering what’s take so long,” says de la Cruz.

Their son Joe has fought a three year addiction and has now been clean since August. Their group Community Speaks Out is hoping to help others get the treatment they need.

But they have hit roadblocks. State insurance only pays for in-state treatment programs.

“You call every day tirelessly no bed, no bed, call back tomorrow,” explains Tammy de la Cruz. “When someone is really reaching out for help time is of the essence to get them help.”

Nurse Practitioner Michele Litvin uses Vivitrol to help those in recovery.

“That decreases the craving for opiates,” says Litvin.

She’s finding some commercial insurance companies won’t pay for the office visit or injection turning some of her patients away.

“The patient obviously goes out and uses drugs, but they are coming in so to me, that’s a sign that they are motivated to get treatment,” says Litvin.

“We understand that they’re hitting this brick wall. We’re here to stop to take the wall down,” says Joe de la Cruz.

In the last four months, they’ve gotten 22 people into rehab and they’re hoping to raise money to help pay for others to get treatment too.

“The money that we save when they become productive can’t even be counted,” says de la Cruz.

State and local police in southeastern Connecticut have announced they are joining forces to fight the growing opiate addiction problem in the region.

Chiefs of police throughout New London County will work with the state to develop strategies to combat the overdoses and deaths they’ve seen recently.

They’ve also pledged additional manpower and resources to target the problem.

Members of Community Speaks Out says they’ve already seen the positive effects of having police become part of the solution.

“We keep hearing over and over and over again how impactful it’s been that the cops call and say hey how are you doing two days later,” says Joe de la Cruz.

He says some of the police departments pass along the group’s card to addicts who find themselves in trouble with the law.

The group then works to get the addict into rehab and out of trouble.

If you would like to contact Community Speaks Out, you can call Joe and Tammy de la Cruz at 860-271-1835 or email the group at communityspeaksout@gmail.com.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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