(WTNH) — Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Dr. Miriam Delphi-Rittmon says it’s important to erase the stigma behind addiction.
“I think the forums have really been helping people to realize this is an illness like any other illness and treatment is available and recovery is possible,” said Dr. Delphin-Rittmon.
The DMHAS, along with local politicians across the state, is working to bring the discussion about the state’s heroin crisis to all communities. Forums are being held in various towns and cities each week in an effort to raise awareness.
Each forum features a panel that includes various health experts, first responders, addicts and their families and government officials.
“It used to be no, it’s not in my backyard, not my kid. And, unfortunately, we’re starting to see this spread across all communities,” said State Senator Art Linares of the 33rd District.
Officials say statistics show more than 70 percent of heroin users started out by using prescription pain medications. In 2015, more than 700 people died as a result of heroin related overdoses.
“We wanted people to have access to experts, to the information, to understand what are the warning signs,” said Senator Linares.
SO far the forums have been a success and the DMHAS says they will continue to schedule them in hopes of saving lives.
“I think people appreciate. They often come up afterward and say thank you for scheduling this. It’s been useful to hear what other people are going through,” Said Commissioner Dr. Delphin-Rittmon.