(WTNH) – News 8 has partnered with iHeartMedia, the CT REALTORS and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) on an on-going awareness campaign shedding light on the opioid crisis in Connecticut.

News 8’s Vice President and General Manager, Rich Graziano, spoke about the meaning of the partnership and the cause altogether:

“We have a federal license to serve the community, this is our home and our local community. This is what we do every day, it’s important to us because it affects our families, our friends, our people and it’s everywhere”

Rich added, “The goal would be to help one family, on the path to recovery to make their life better and save a life. That would be our goal and it’s real simple. I think we will do that by working together.”

In partnership with News 8 is iHeartMedia, owner and operator of eight radio stations in Connecticut, as well as 850 across the country. iHeartMedia Market’s Group Hartford Region President, Steve Honeycomb added that building awareness and education to the public through the partnership is key:

“Starting now, even before tickets go on-sale, we will be using all of our influencers, our people that have relationships with hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut every day. They’ll be able to communicate to them, to build awareness and educate.”

Education is key in the fight to break the stigma. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, PhD of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) shares statistics in Connecticut:

“When we look at our numbers, we see a significant increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths, looking from 2012 – 2019. In 2012, there were 357 overdose deaths. In 2019, we’re projected to have about 1,088. That’s really a significant increase.”

The disorder does not discriminate. The impact across age, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, is one of the reasons of inspiration for the CT REALTORS. The organization wanted to become involved and take a leadership position in the campaign because of the gravity of the campaign knowing no boundaries:

“When I made a comment to our CEO that there must be some people in our organization that are suffering from this in one shape or form, either directly or through a family member or a loved one, literally less than 24-hours later, we learned that one of our colleagues lost a 24-year-old child. And so this hit home, and it was even more critical and that’s when we stepped up our efforts and reached out to put this together very quickly.” – Michael Barbaro, Chair of the CT REALTORS Opioid Awareness Work Group.

Throughout the next several months, beyond the concert event, News 8 will be spotlighting stories of recovery and support efforts in Connecticut alongside partners listed and encouraging additional participation.

Visit CTRecovers.com for additional information on the campaign, as well as resources for those that need assistance.