The Warwick Police Department, in partnership with the United States Office of the Attorney General and the Norwood Neighborhood Association, are inviting the public to join an informational session on Wednesday to increase awareness about the opioid epidemic and, hopefully, provide facts that can save somebody’s life.
“It just shows the grip of this epidemic,” said Captain Joseph Hopkins of the Warwick Police Department on the purpose of the event. “I call it the devil’s drug. There’s no other drug out there that has this grip.”
The discussion will be open to the public and held on Wednesday, April 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. However, Hopkins said that people are welcome to show up around 6 p.m. to have conversations with personnel from various healthcare facilities on the front lines of the epidemic, such as Bridgemark and Kent Hospital from Warwick and the Providence Center.
Opening remarks will be given by Stephen G. Dambruch, United States Attorney for Rhode Island, followed by remarks from Mayor Scott Avedisian, Warwick Chief of Police Colonel Stephen McCartney and Carl Salustio of the Norwood Neighborhood Association.
The event is centered around a screening of the documentary “Chasing the Dragon,” which chronicles a group of people who have all suffered and since recovered from substance abuse. The documentary, while focusing on recovery, does not shy away from the morbid reality that permeated the subjects’ lives when they were addicted.
“Some of them were in jail, some lost their family,” said Hopkins. “It shows the dark side of their lives.”
After the 40-minute documentary there will be remarks from a parent, Deborah Parente, who lost her 25-year-old son to an opioid overdose.
Following Parente will be an open question and answer session, moderated by Dambruch, with panelists including Dr. James MacDonald from the Rhode Island Department of Health; George O’Toole from Anchor Recovery; Christine Harkins, president and CEO of Bridgemark; Bernadette McDowell, Warwick Public School nurse; Captain Hopkins of Warwick Police; and Investigator David Neill from the United States Attorney’s Office.
Hopkins expressed his hope that somebody will be able to ask a question and get an answer from the panel that might make the difference in the life of somebody they love who is afflicted by the chronic disease of drug addiction.
“I guarantee everyone in that room knows somebody who has dealt with substance abuse issues. It affects a lot of people,” Hopkins said. “The most important thing to getting them treatment is getting their friends and family aware of the situation and to be able to recognize the signs and be able to get them into recovery. We’re hoping someone in that forum will have that ‘aha’ moment and they take away something that can save somebody’s life.”
Lifespan will also be available at 6 p.m. prior to the discussion beginning to train people in the use of naloxone, commonly known as Narcon, which can save the life of somebody experiencing an opioid overdose. Lifespan will be distributing Narcan to those who are interested.