GRISWOLD, Conn. (WTNH) — The opioid crisis has hit communities big and small across the state and now the eastern Connecticut town of Griswold and its borough of Jewett City are the site of a pilot program, which could have far reaching effects.
The program is called the CRISIS Initiative, which stands for Connection to Recovery through Intervention, Support, and Initiating Services. The program is aimed at helping people immediately enter into treatment programs after they’ve been arrested, have voluntarily come forward seeking help, or have been identified by family members.
“We have to start creating those opportunities to get people fast into treatment. We cannot say hey come and report tomorrow. By then tomorrow they’re back using the drug. We’re losing them,” said Kevin Skulczyck who is the first selectman in Griswold where the pilot program began in June.
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“It has the highest use of Narcan or Naloxone usage in the state with 21 as far as state police administered,” said Sgt. Eric Haglund, a spokesperson with the Connecticut State Police.
Bigger cities have even higher usage among their local emergency crews. The CRISIS initiative is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the federal Department of Justice and has now been expanded to all communities covered by Troop E.
“It’s a good thing,” said Robert Budz of Griswold. “They should have it everywhere because the fact is that more and more people are dying from it.”
The state’s youngest victim 17-year-old Olivia Roark was from Griswold and died in a Groton motel. Troopers have been carrying Narcan since 2014.
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“What the goal is is to have it happen prior to any sort of interaction like that,” said Sgt. Haglund.
Licensed clinical social worker Jonathan Luysterborghs is working full-time out of Troop E in Montville.
Anyone seeking help can walk into the barracks or call their resident state trooper’s office to be connected with Luysterborghs who works for the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. He will help them find treatment immediately.
A similar program was started at Lawrence & Memorial hospital where addiction counselors are on hand for patients recovering from overdoses. They offer counseling and immediate help to get those willing into treatment programs.