Strategies to help reduce the impact of the state’s opioid epidemic will be presented at “Building Bridges and Finding Answers: The Opioid Crisis in Connecticut,” on Friday, June 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Quinnipiac University School of Law, 370 Bassett Road.
Recommendations from law enforcement, counselors, city and town officials, medical professionals, criminal justice representatives and others will be reported during the day-long event. The summit is sponsored by the School of Law, the Connecticut Bar Foundation and the Connecticut Bar Association.
The forum is a follow-up to the opioid summit’s launch last November when more than 200 stakeholders gathered to share information, consider strategies, generate policy and identify programs to help the state’s 169 cities and towns affected by the opioid epidemic. The launch concluded with the formation of 10 work groups that have spent nearly seven months discussing issues, generating ideas and formulating plans that will be presented at the summit.
The summit is the brainchild of state Superior Court Judge Barry F. Armata and Jennifer Gerarda Brown, Quinnipiac’s interim executive vice president and provost and former dean of the School of Law. In 2017, Armata shared his concerns about the number of court cases he was seeing where opioids played a role. Brown thought Quinnipiac could take this on as an issue.
“Because of Quinnipiac’s robust programs in law, medicine, nursing and education, we felt that the university was perfectly situated to address this issue by pulling together experts, stakeholders and our community of faculty, staff and students on the front lines,” Brown said. “The opioid epidemic impacts every aspect of society, and solving this problem requires creative solutions and a multi-disciplinary approach.”
The working groups’ findings and recommendations will be covered in a special issue of the Quinnipiac Law Review later this year to serve as a resource for Connecticut legislators, city and town officials, educators, legal professionals dealing with the issue and pharmaceutical and insurance executives.
Each working group will discuss the following at Friday’s summit:
- Towns/Cities/Municipalities/Regional: How municipalities can enhance statewide coordination, communication and policy recommendations to ensure individuals and families living with opioid use disorders have the care and support they need. The group’s recommendations were based on the results of a survey developed with the School of Law that was distributed to the mayors and first selectmen in every municipality in Connecticut.
- Family Support: Gaps in support and available resources for family members of people with addiction.
- Medical Provider Education: Collaboration among the state’s health care organizations to encourage appropriate prescribing, interprofessional sharing of information and proper disposal of opiate medication.
- First Responders: Tangible and intangible barriers to providing patient care, interventions and what ideal outcomes look like for people with opioid use disorder.
- Opioids and Kids/Families: The impact of opioid addiction on families and children, and the identification of available and needed resources, community interventions and outcome measures.
- Opioid Education for the Public: Resources that include tricircleinc.org, a support group for parents and guardians; Aware Recovery Care’s In-Home Addiction Treatment program; and Project Courage Substance Abuse Recovery Center. It will screen resources such as Chasing the Dragon, a documentary about addicts, and other films.
- Law Enforcement and Legal: Rather than arresting its way out of the problem—an untenable and ineffective approach—this work group recommends moving to a “Treatment First Model,” where medication-assisted treatment is available. The group created a toolkit so police departments can access treatment options and written policy recommendations.
- People in Recovery and Treaters/Rehab: Treatment options, progress in expanding harm reduction, and ideas for using grant money to expand the use of MATT vans and recovery coaches/peer coaches for every hospital emergency department for non-fatal overdose patients.
- Employers/Business: More compassionate approaches to action in the workplace based on current research to replace punitive measures such as zero-tolerance. This group worked to produce an educational toolkit for employers that includes statistics, employer rights and obligations, medical treatment options, intervention strategies, and resources that address prevention treatment and recovery while employed.
- Opioids in Schools/Impact on Pre-K and Families: Education and empowerment to encourage students to select healthy lifestyle choices and prevent addiction.