Forum sheds light on extent of opioid epidemic
Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Charles Grady talks about the current opioid epidemic during a forum held Wednesday at the Litchfield Community Center by the Litchfield-Morris Rotary Club. BZ photos
The opioid epidemic that has seized Connecticut knows no boundaries when it comes to demographics, according to panelists who spoke during a forum held at the Litchfield Community Center by the Litchfield-Morris Rotary Club.
Speakers included Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Charles Grady, Litchfield Resident Trooper Jim Holm and retired state police detective John Pudlinski, now the training officer for Litchfield Volunteer Ambulance.
The Rotary Club held the forum as part of its community outreach program and designed it to help the public understand the extent of the abuse of heroin and painkillers like oxycodone and oxycontin by people of all ages in all places.
According to Grady, opioid abuse is everywhere, from the streets of Hartford and other cities to wealthy enclaves like Greenwich. It is claiming up to 1,000 lives a year in the state and is showing no signs of slowing down, he said.
Shown during the forum was the FBI’s new film on opioid addiction, “Chasing the Dragon.” The film was a graphic portrayal of the lives of several individuals fighting addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and oxycontin.
Holm, seeing the film for the first time, said it should be mandatory in all high schools. It has been shown at Litchfield High School and plans are underway to show it at Wamogo next year.
Pudlinsk, in his capacity with Litchfield Volunteer Ambulance, said opioid use, and in particular heroin use, is rampant locally.
“If you think it’s not in Litchfield, think twice,” Pudlinski said. “It’s everywhere and is being used by people of all ages, from teens to those in their 50s and older.”
FBI agent Grady introduces Maks Danilin, a recovering opioid addict who works as a substance abuse rehabilitation counselor. Below, retired state police detective John Pudlinski addresses the gathering. Looking on is Bob Kluge of the Litchfield-Morris Rotary Club.