Last week, an important and well attended talk on the rise in opioid and heroin use—even here in Wilton—offered important information to attendees about how to start the conversation and keep their families safe. The discussion, “It Starts in Your Medicine Cabinet:  Protecting Our Families from the Opioid/Heroin Epidemic,” covered the causes of opioid and heroin abuse and strategies for prevention, signs and symptoms of trouble, treatment options and varied perspectives from the panel members.

Some of the most riveting things that audience members heard were said by two panelists, local adults who are in recovery from addiction to some of these illicit substances:  Kera Townsend, a young woman who grew up in New Canaan and despite appearances (honor roll and cheerleading captain) was addicted to alcohol and drugs; and Nick deSpoelberch, a Darien resident who is a former private school dean of students who had a heroin overdose in Wilton and was arrested by Wilton police officers. Organizers said their participation was especially moving and critical to the audience’s experience and understanding of how close this problem can hit home.

Opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet are routinely prescribed for pain. Concurrent with improved pain management has been a rise in addiction to these medicines in adults and teens. When pills run out or are difficult to obtain, heroin is often the next step.

Leading the discussion was Dr. John Douglas, clinical director of Silver Hill Hospital’s Outpatient Addiction Program. Also participating was Wilton’s school resource officer Rich Ross, Wilton Public Schools outreach counselor Kristin Dineen, and addiction counselor Vince Benevento. In addition, two adults in recovery from addiction were part of the panel, and

The meeting was videotaped and organizers have made the recording available for viewing online, and GOOD Morning Wilton has been given permission to stream it here. The presentation starts at the 13 min. 50 sec. (13:50) mark. The two adults in recovery speak at 01:09:15 (1 hr. 9 min. 15 sec.). [It may take the video several seconds to buffer and begin streaming.] The video is also available to view on the Wilton Public School Google Drive.

This program was co-sponsored by Human Services Council, League of Women Voters, Riverbrook Regional YMCA, Silver Hill Hospital, Wilton Interfaith Clergy Association, Wilton Public Schools, Wilton Social and Youth Services, and Wilton Youth Council.

*Video available here by permission of Wilton Public Schools