We are Community Outreach and Recovery Navigators at Greenwoods Counseling and Referrals, a non-profit in Litchfield County, CT. We support anyone living or working in our county who is struggling with addiction, as well as their families and friends.
Operating as usual
Thanks to the NW Hills Prevention Connection, we have two opportunities for CPR Certification & Narcan training at no cost. Classes are limited to 10 people, you must register to participate.
We are starting a new weekly site in Kent! Feel free to stop by for free Narcan, as well as support and connection to treatment.
With the increasing fentanyl laced substances, we encourage everyone to have Narcan in their first aid kit.
In the Register Citizen today https://www.registercitizen.com/news/article/Litchfield-County-overdose-spike-raises-concerns-17203025.php
WINSTED — Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is making its way into drugs of all kinds on the street, and overdoses are on the rise.
That’s according to Sarah Toomey, lead community outreach and recovery navigator with Greenwoods Addiction Outreach, who said the current rate of overdoses is about 25 per month in Litchfield County. The substance abuse outreach program is part of Greenwoods Counseling Referrals, which provides mental health services to individuals and families throughout the Northwest Corner.
“People think they’re getting cocaine, but it’s cocaine with fentanyl in it,” Toomey said. “They don’t know what they’re using and they overdose. When they get to the hospital, they have symptoms of a heart attack. So the hospital doesn’t always know it’s because of the fentanyl.”
An example of the presence of fentanyl and other drugs in the area was reported in March by the Torrington Police Department’s detective division and the statewide Narcotics Task Force. According to the report, police arrested two people for their alleged “involvement with sales of several different forms of fentanyl, throughout Torrington and surrounding areas.
Police said they executed a search and seizure warrant and recovered 1,181 blue pills, which were tested and found to contain fentanyl. Police said they also found more than 100 wax paper packets with white powder containing fentanyl; other packets containing cocaine; scales, packaging and other equipment.
According to a May 12 report from the American Medical Association, “the nation’s drug overdose epidemic continues to change and become worse ... And now is driven by illicit fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, methamphetamine, and cocaine, often in combination or adulturated forms. More than 107,000 deaths were reported in the United States between December 2020 and December 2021.”
Alerting the public
Greenwoods Addiction Outreach provides people with drug and/or alcohol addiction with information and opportunities to find treatment. The agency also provides naloxone, a drug used to bring a person out of an overdose, to anyone who needs it and encourages them to have it on hand if they know someone in the household is using heroin or other substances. Narcan is a brand of naloxone.
On May 7, Toomey posted an alert on the agency’s page, saying “We are currently in an overdose spike alert. We have had 3 or more overdoses in a 24-hour period. ... Be aware, be safe, have naloxone available and don’t use alone. If you are in need of resources, Narcan, treatment options or support call/text 860-485-7725.”
Toomey and other members of the agency’s staff work with members of Litchfield County Opiate Task Force. Formed in December 2013, the task force is led by the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, with a membership including local elected and police officials, state representatives, the health department, substance use disorder and mental health treatment providers, people in recovery and parents of those struggling with substance abuse, according to its website. Members and other volunteers work with people in the community to help them find treatment.
Lauren M. Pristo, director of community engagement with the Litchfield County Opiate Task Force, said the increase in the use of fentanyl has been on the rise since 2016.
“It’s been surging ever since,” she said. “The vast majority of overdoses are caused by fentanyl. It’s popping up in pills, in crack cocaine. ... It’s a risk to many different people, not just those who use opiates.”
There were 275 fatal overdoses in Connecticut in 2021, Pristo said.
Toomey agreed that fentanyl is being found in other illicit drugs — heroin, and now cocaine. It’s also been found in pills that are crushed and snorted or swallowed.
“We’re seeing it a lot in pills (and) powders,” she said. “We have tested substances with a test trip. What’s scary is that a lot of kids are getting their hands on these pills and if they take something else with it, they could die of an overdose.”
“People aren’t recognizing the risks,” Pristo said. “A lot of middle-aged people are fatally overdosing; it’s not just the young, experimenting crowd.”
Maria Skinner, CEO of McCall, said the risks are very high for people who are using these drugs.
“We are certainly seeing the result of the proliferation of synthetic opioids in the drug supply,” she said. “Unsuspecting people may think they are purchasing a Xanax pill or using cocaine, only to find that a lethal dose of a synthetic opioid (there are many fentanyl analogues) was present.”
Helping people with substance abuse
Greenwoods and the McCall Center are unified in their approach to overdose prevention and opportunities for treatment.
“We are working very hard to get the word out to the public that an overdose can happen to anyone using substances, therefore Narcan should be in every home and fentanyl test strips used on any drug a person plans to use,” Skinner said.
“Greenwoods works with our program and partners with different agencies, to maximize our resources,” Pristo said. “They are partnered with Winsted law enforcement, and Charlotte Hungerford Hospital has also partnered with Torrington law enforcement. At the McCall Foundation, we were awarded a grant to expand that partnership.
“We also have harm reduction rovers (a mobile unit of people) to go out into the communities they serve, following up with people who have overdose. ... We also have multiple harm reduction sites around the county to distribute supplies. The van is out there, with increased hours, expanded hours, so we’re doing as much as we can.”
Volunteers are always welcome to join, she said. “The task force welcomes community participation,” Pristo said. “We train and welcome volunteers.
“I want to stress that it’s through the work of so many community partners coming together that we are able to do this,” she said. “It’s an amazing unity that’s working hard on this issue.”
Skinner said she has heard people say they are afraid to help someone who is overdosing, thinking they will be exposed to the drug themselves. “You are in no danger of overdosing if you help someone experiencing one,” she said. “Please, learn the signs of an overdose, call 911 and administer Narcan (naloxone).”
“We also understand that loved ones struggle mightily when they have someone in the throes of addiction and they also need support, guidance and healing. McCall has programs to walk families through their recovery process as well,” Skinner said.
Prevention is key
One of Toomey’s biggest concerns is finding a way to stop the overdoses before they happen.
“That’s why we encourage people to have naloxone. Then we can save them, and get them in to treatment,” she said. “We average about 25 overdoses a month in Litchfield County, and it’s been upwards to more than 30. This month, we’re at 17 already, with two fatals. This trend is concerning to me.”
In spite of the statistics, Toomey and her colleagues work hard to keep the overdoses down. “It’s important to highlight that Litchfield County is the only one in the state that’s seen a reduction in fatal overdoses,” she said. “We’ve done a good job of getting it out there, and we’ve been able to save lives.”
If a police department responds to a report of an overdose, the outreach team follows up. “We work with the police to connect us to the families, or the individual,” she said. “Sometimes the individual doesn’t want help or treatment, so we work with the family.”
Much of what Greenwoods does is by word of mouth. “People will call us and say ‘We heard there was an overdose (at someone’s home) and we’ll follow up,” Toomey said. “A lot of family and friends are referred to us, and we get them into treatment; or whatever pathway to treatment they’re interested in. We can make recommendations, and help them through their recovery.”
To volunteer, visit www.lcotf.org .
Litchfield County overdose spike raises concerns among recovery groups Addiction and recovery advocates say the growth of fentanyl-laced drugs is raising the...
Night of Pride to benefit the new LGBTQIA+ Client Assistance Fund - Greenwoods Counseling & Referrals, Inc. Join us for a night of Pride to benefit the new LGBTQIA+ Client Assistance Fund. Organized by twenty2 wallpaper + textiles as part of their Social Awareness initiative.
In the past 2-1/2 years of our program we have given out over 1300 Narcan kits across Litchfield County. Occasionally we get to hear when our kits are used and how they saved a life. During one of our Narcan sites today a person we gave a kit to stopped to tell us they had witnessed an overdose and was glad they had Narcan available and they picked up another kit. You never know when you might be able to save a life and be a Narcan Hero!
We have fentanyl test strips and Narcan available at no cost.
You never know when someone might be struggling with an addiction issue. It could be someone you love. Stigmatizing addiction can be a barrier to someone asking for help. Let's all work together to STOP stigma. You can save a life by doing a few simple things.
We are out in the community around Litchfield County 5 Days a week. Stop by one of our outreach locations for Narcan, addiction resources, support and treatment options.
We are currently in a overdose spike alert, we have had 3 or more overdoses in a 24 hour period. The middle and lower part of Litchfield county has been experiencing an increase in overdoses this week and especially today. We help with harm reduction. Be aware, be safe, have Narcan available and don’t use alone. If you are in need of resources, Narcan, treatment options or support call/text 860-485-7725.
You never know when a family member, friend or loved one may have an issue with substances. Consider this before stigmatizing addiction, name calling and shaming others.
While Connecticut continues to see an increase in fatal overdoses, Litchfield County is the only County in CT to see a reduction in fatal overdoses for the past two years. The trend of substances in these overdoses continues to change. We are seeing more fentanyl, synthetic and opioid analogues and fentanyl laced substances contributing to these overdoses.
In recognition of international firefighter day, we thank all of our firefighters and remind you of our peer support program, firefighter and first responder support program. We never want there to be any barrier to our first responders accessing services!
Fentanyl is being found in all street purchased substances. If it didn't come from a pharmacy you should assume it has fentanyl. You can test your substance to help keep you safe.
42% of street purchased pills the DEA tested had 2mg or more of fentanyl which is considered a lethal dose. Start the conversation, have Narcan available and reach out for help if needed.
We have a new outreach location starting 5/6 for Narcan distribution in Barkhamsted. Thank you Brass Horse Cafe LLC for allowing us to use your parking lot and being open to this important initiative. Fentanyl is being found laced in all substances. Having Narcan available can save a life when you least expect it. Thank you to all of our community partners.
All street purchased substances are being laced with fentanyl, we recommend everyone have a Narcan kit available. In the event of an overdose knowing how to respond including administering Narcan and providing rescue breathing can increase the persons chance of survival by 50%.
Today is the day, give local!!!
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Join us next Friday in Kent - we'll be distributing free Narcan from 2p to 3p. Thank you to Kent Wine & Spirit for hosting us!
Now more than ever it is important for everyone to have Narcan in their first aid kit. All of our schools now have Narcan available, you should too! We can provide a Narcan kit at no cost. Call or text 860-485-7725.
For the full article https://www.statnews.com/2022/04/12/driven-by-fentanyl-rates-of-fatal-teen-overdoses-doubled-in-2020/
The snow has melted and the ground is unfrozen. We still have our emergency service yard signs available. These are $10 each and benefit the emergency services fund at Greenwood’s, to support any emergency service worker or volunteer struggling with mental health or addiction. Please call or text us at 860-485-7725 to get your sign. Thank you to all those have already purchased or supported our fund, it has already benefited several people!
We are often sharing not great news when it comes to overdoses, spike alerts and what is happening in CT and in the County. We have some great news to share! We have been working hard and it has been an amazing collaborative effort. Winsted's leadership response is a great example of how important it is to address these issues head on. We are here to help!
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