The city has received a $650,000 grant to help those struggling with opioid addiction.
The Overdose Data to Action grant from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will be used to better understand and respond to the epidemic in the community. A central registry will be created to connect caregivers to individuals with the goal of narrowing the time from a Narcan administration to getting the individual into a recovery program. The funding will also be used to supplement the work that the Mayor’s Opioid Task Force is undertaking, which aims to reduce the number of opioid and heroin overdose death by 50 percent by next year.
The grant is a game changer to the task force, said Mayor Erin Stewart. “Last year we expanded what the task force did in 2018 by having more members, more action, more education, and we’re in the process of updating our website.”
This funding will also go a long way in continuing the efforts of the H.O.P.E initiative, which is a Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education program launched by the New Britain Police Department in 2018.
The program allows addicts to seek treatment in lieu of an arrest and charge for drug possession or paraphernalia at the discretion of the officer.
According to the city, this initiative has been able to positively impact 77 people so far by connecting them with services to help treat their addiction.
“When we have a better understanding of where overdoses are occurring, we can better target our strategies to save lives,” said Stewart.
Various community organizations and stakeholders will participate in cross-functioning training and access and analyze existing data to help target prevention strategies and harm reduction, according to the city. The grant will be used to establish a mobile response team, in which a peer recovery specialist will conduct an in home follow-up wellness check within 72 hours of a reported/identified overdose. This specialist will aid in referral, treatment and recovery.
Bruce Baxter, CEO of New Britain EMS, said the grant will allow the community to leverage the activities of its EMS system with recovery partners throughout the community to help achieve the goal of reducing opioid deaths by 50 percent in 2021.
“Paramedics and EMTs are often a patient’s first point of contact with the health care system when they overdose,” he said. “While the care they provide in these situations is lifesaving, they also have the ability to navigate patients and their families to additional sources of follow-up care through the network of community recovery partners this grant will formalize.”
The city will partner with several contractors to implement the action items. These partners include Beyond Lucid Technologies, the National Council for Behavioral Health, New Britain Emergency Medical Services, Community Mental Health Affiliates, and TechServ Corporation.
The city is also officially a “Recovery Friendly Community” through a unanimously approved resolution by the Common Council. By becoming a Recovery Friendly Community, the city is committed to working with the community to help those who are suffering from opioid and heroin addiction.