UNCASVILLE, Conn. (WTNH)– It’s star studded Sunday night at Mohegan Sun with ACM/CMA entertainer of the year Keith Urban taking the stage for an important cause in Connecticut – the opioid crisis.
It is a crisis so serious that at least two people die each day in the state from an opioid overdose. But from the grief comes the action and the hope that recovery is possible.
Related: Connecticut’s opioid crisis by the numbers
“For years, the primary substance people reported having problems with was alcohol. So now we are seeing a switch and it’s heroin and other opioids.”Miriam Delphine-Rittmon, Commissioner of the State Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
“A Concert for Recovery” began with opening acts Travis Denning and Matt Stell taking the stage but setup for the concert started early Sunday morning and a lot goes into it.
Related: A Concert for Recovery: ‘It’s teamwork, we’re gelled together’ – Mohegan Sun sets up ahead of Keith Urban performance
Just before his big Country Music Awards performance, Keith Urban called into our partners at iHeartMedia to talk about the show.
He also had some important words to say about the cause behind the concert.
“I’m really grateful to be able to do it. It’s really important cause so I’m really honored that this is happening and that we get to be a part of it.”Keith Urban
Keith also said he’s spending a lot of time in the studio working on new music. He just released a Christmas song.
All of the money raised at this concert will go to fight against opioid addiction here in Connecticut.
More details: Combat the Crisis: the crisis in numbers, and what the state is doing to fight it
News 8’s Bob Wilson was at the box office where people were heading into the arena with Cory from iHeartMedia.
“One of the stories I heard from a friend of mine who is an EMT, he came up and said when you have delivered Narcan to one person three times in one night, you look at this epidemic in a completely different way. And I don’t this any of us, that’s occurred to us. And he’s right.”Cory, iHeartMedia
Some big names are speaking out in support of the campaign besides Urban. Former NBA star and Old Saybrook native Vin Baker has been sober for almost nine years.
“My message for people trying to get to the road to recovery is to be in touch with your vulnerability. Be in touch with the fact that you’re powerless, it took me so long to realize that I have a problem because I thought I had all the power.”Vin Baker
Another local man says opioids led to him getting shot, surviving two overdoses and two prison stints but he’s turned his life around.
His story here: New Haven man recovers from opioid use disorder with support from family and fitness
Ridgefield Realtor Josephine Simko lost her 26-year-old son Jonathan to an overdose this past June. She says at first she didn’t talk about it because of the stigma associated with opioid use.
“It was very hard for me to talk to people who had the same situation I did but once I did I was able to find resources and people who were there for me.”Josephine Simko
The CT Realtors are the driving force behind Sunday night’s big event and it’s an issue that hits close to home for them.
Michael Barbaro, the chair of the CT Realtors Opioid Awareness Work Group, discussed what they hope to accomplish and their future plans on tackling the issue.
“What we need is a change of mind. A change of mindset. We have to get people to realize that it’s OK. That other people are suffering with this. That people you don’t even know are suffering with this. And if we can get people out of the shadows and they can get the help that is available to them out there, then we can save lives.”Michael Barbaro
While many are on successful paths to recovery, there are also many that are struggling to get the help they need.
Miriam Delphine-Rittmon , Commissioner of the State Department Of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and Tom Coderre, Regional Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, discuss what’s working for those in recovery.
“The federal government, Congress, the administration has put a lot resources into the states. We made sure that Connecticut has gotten money for the opioid crisis specifically, to run programs that are evidence based and that are showing real success. And we are seeing now for the first year ever the curve becoming a little bit bending and we are seeing a decrease in deaths for the first time ever. “Tom Coderre, Regional Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
For many local hospitals, the opioid epidemic has become about fighting the crisis head on.
More details: Saint Francis and CCAR working together to help navigate victims of opioid epidemic
The opioid crisis often affects family members and loved ones as much the person struggling. East Haddam mom Debbie Breton says her son Lukas struggled with opioids for several months after a skiing accident before dying from an overdose in 2016.
“Why would I have ever thought that my son would have become addicted to pills and how easily he could get them.”Debbie Breton
Lukas’ story here: A prescription for addiction: East Haddam mother says Vicodin script caused her son’s addiction and ultimately his fatal overdose
The push to end the stigma is now reaching national levels.
Related: ‘Sesame Street’ tackles addiction, introduces new muppet
Bob Wilson was outside the box office before the concert with Wendy from iHeartMedia.
“It brings you to tears. But then these are folks are so strong. They are coming out and are like thank you for doing this. And we are helping so many people and I’m just so proud.”Wendy, iHeartMedia
Don’t forget that you can help us end the stigma of opioid addiction. You can make a one-time $25 donation by texting “c-t-r 25” to 52000. Standard message and data rates may apply. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. Users must be 18 or older.
Related: Donate by text to help combat opioid use disorder in Connecticut
All of that money will go toward combating opioid abuse disorder in Connecticut