Griswold, CT – Connecticut has seen a 22 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths in 2020. At this rate, CT will surpass last year’s record of nearly 1,200 drug overdose deaths, a statistic that didn’t sit well with Matt’s Mission and Griswold Pride.
Overdoses frequently occur in public places, but many businesses aren’t prepared to respond or even identify one. PRIDE and Matt’s Mission wanted to change that. They outreached to local businesses in Jewett City to join them in their new initiative. The two organizations worked together to provide participating businesses with the resources they need to save a life from an overdose.
Naloxone, a drug antagonist that reverses the effects of opioids, and an informational toolkit were given to the businesses so they could respond appropriately if ever needed. The toolkit includes flyers on how to spot an overdose, how to administer naloxone, and what to do during an overdose situation. Flyers were also provided for employee break rooms and their public spaces to alert customers and community members that there is naloxone on site in the case of an emergency.
Some business owners were quick to respond yes, having someone close to them overdose and being saved with naloxone, and some having lost a loved one to an overdose. Some businesses had concerns about the liability issue. But CT’s Good Samaritan Law ensures that someone cannot be arrested for administering naloxone and there is no liability for the business or the individual if the naloxone doesn’t work.
An additional concern that was discussed are the side effects of the drug if the person wasn’t overdosing. Fortunately, naloxone will not harm anyone who may be overdosing from something other than opioids, or who is not overdosing.
One of the goals with this program is to fight the stigma that surrounds naloxone. Some see the medication as a way to enable people who use drugs, but that’s not what it is, Kathleen Dufficy, President of Matt’s Mission, said: “It’s a way to save a life, give a second chance. The life you save administering Narcan is someone’s loved one, and may be their wake up call to seek treatment.”
The majority of the businesses were happy to be given the chance to be a resource to the community. “We are grateful for the opportunity to potentially save a life”, says Matt Lisee, Owner of Paragon Co-Workspace and Capital Property Group, LLC.
And Pat McGrath, Owner of Brewett City Pub, seconds that, stating, “We’re always looking for ways to help the community.” SNSN Radio has served as a pick up location for many of PRIDE’s resources and information for years, and is happy to have the life-saving medication on hand.
Owner Mike Minarsky says, “At SNSN Radio, we want the community to know that we are drug free and proud to partner with Griswold Pride to not only distribute information, but to live that message as well by having materials and Narcan on site for someone that needs it immediately. Thank you Griswold Pride for allowing us to join in the work that you do.”
Naloxone On Site-Participating businesses include: Blades and Beauty Salon & Barbershop, Brewett City Pub, Capital Property Group LLC, Comfort Inn, Frederick’s Hair Fashion Studios, Jewett City Greenhouse, Jewett City Spirit Shop, Paragon Co-Work Space, Rosa’s Latin Cuisine, SNSN Radio, and Two Sisters Shipping and Business Center
Miranda Mahoney, Project Coordinator of Griswold PRIDE, from Community Health Resources, is also a member of another committee that works to prevent overdoses in the Greater Norwich region. This committee, led by the Norwich Task Force and Uncas Health District, is a partnership between public health and first responders, formed to track, alert, respond, and prevent overdoses in the community.
Mahoney sees her participation in this committee as a resource for Griswold and Jewett City, as she learns about how it’s implemented and how to adapt it to our community.
Norwich has seen a decrease in fatal overdoses over the last few months, as a result in part to the increase in availability of naloxone there. Mahoney thought this was a great opportunity to start tailoring their strategies to target the needs of our community.
She states, “By mapping our community’s overdoses, using the data from the committee, we were able to determine that the majority of our overdoses occur in the Borough. The next step was to saturate that area with naloxone, so we can be better prepared to respond to an overdose and prevent it from being fatal. These businesses should be commended for taking a stand to carry this life saving medication.”