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A Crisis We Cannot Ignore

We are aware of the nation-wide drug crisis in our area, particularly now with opioids. We are fortunate to have a number of supportive agencies in the northwest corner of our state which provide much needed help, both for prevention and treatment.

Connecticut Attorney General’s Office
On February 14, 2018, the Northwest Corner Prevention Network (NCPN) held their monthly meeting at HVRHS. Ines Cenatiempo, from the CT Attorney General’s office, spoke about opioid use in the state and she shared the film, “Chasing the Dragon” and highlighted how extensive the drug problem is in Connecticut.

Ms. Cenatiempo will be invited to speak with administrators to present this same information. A morning hour long session with 7th and 8th graders and an afternoon session with High School students will also be planned. We expect to schedule this for a day in April. The purpose of all these meetings is to create awareness of opioid dangers and the support that is available for prevention and addiction.

Park City, Utah
Administrators held a video-conference session on February 15 with the Park City, Utah superintendent, Dr. Ember Conley, who shared the tragedy their district experienced when two middle school students died within one week from opioids. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u4Zme-avgRCM9qrUgjmgb7WeGG33AuYf/view?usp=sharing  http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/education-update/nov17/vol59/num11/Districts-Vow-to-Not-%C2%A3Lose-One-More-Kid%C2%A3-to-Opioids.aspx

Dr. Ember Conley made these points:
We must address mental health and mental illness at an early age
We need to get past the stigma that seeking social/emotional/mental health issues is a bad thing
Opioids are very easy to buy online and have shipped to homes. Parents must be aware of deliveries
It is not enough to tell kids “Don’t do drugs”. Instead teach children what drugs do to your body
“Unplug” technology, particularly when kids are alone without parent supervision. This can contribute to mental health issues (loneliness, bullying, etc.)
Counselors and school psychologists are essential in schools 
We need to teach resilience to our kids
Present films and real stories to students and parents to help everyone understand the reality of opioids 
We need training for parents/students regarding healthcare (i.e. opioid use for pain medication)
Work with pharmacies and doctors, talk to parents, and dispose of unused prescriptions 
Know how to reach out to local and state resources
The best practice for building capacity within schools is to have regular meetings and trainings on this topic and analyze the threat assessments and risks

The Northwest Corner Prevention Network (NCPN) has obtained a grant that can be used to purchase Narcan and provide training on it. We do not yet have Narcan in our schools, but are now discussing a policy that enables staff to administer this. 

We will also have more curriculum discussions to determine how we address drug use and addiction at each grade level. A proactive curriculum that is being used in all of our Region One middle schools is the Botvin Life Skills program. The program, comprised of 16 lessons, helps our youth to understand themselves, cope with challenges and know the dangers of addiction.

Additionally, there is a Community Opioid Panel Discussion scheduled on April 13 at 6 PM. The panel of experts include: Maria Coutant Skinner, McCall Center for Behavioral Health; Julia Scharnberg, Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation; and John Simoncelli, Greenwoods Counseling Referrals, Inc.

We will have more conversations this spring with our community agencies about ways we can help to educate our children and our communities about a national issue that must be combatted.

More Information:
Opioid Statistics https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iameB2J6xpwjTnTyFQKjBXQvaxqWBh32/view?usp=sharing

Beneath the Surface: The Opioid Epidemic in Northwest Connecticut

Local Resources: http://www.hysb.org/northwest-corner-prevention-network.html
At Housatonic Youth Services Bureau (HYSB), collaboration is fundamental to any approach to substance abuse prevention. HYSB is a member of the Northwest Corner Prevention Network, a coalition representing a cross-section of the Northwest Corner. The network is made up of teachers and administrators, business leaders, parents, non-profit advocacy groups, town recreational departments, private and public healthcare providers, and numerous other community organizations. In 2016, the network joined forces with the McCall Center for Behavioral Health, the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation's Northwest Corner Fund and the Foundation for Community Health. This joint effort will allow the network to implement prevention strategies guided by the Strategic Prevention Framework, an evidence-based intervention often used by community coalitions.