PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Lincoln Chafee and other state and community leaders hosted a public forum Friday morning to address signs, symptoms and solutions of the rising number of local drug overdoses.
On Friday afternoon, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Health confirmed that the number of people who have died of apparent accidental overdoses has risen to 78.
With the rising number of overdose deaths, drug addiction is starting to come out of the shadows and is being looked at more as a health problem, and not just a crime or a moral issue. Jack Reilly from Cape Cod said drug abuse nearly destroyed his daughter’s life.
“She was very sick, her whole focus was on getting high,” he said, “It was a very quick slide and we didn’t see it coming, then we had a problem.”
Rielly’s daughter has been in recovery for over one year, but many others locally are still abusing drugs. Former addicts and their families came together Friday to brainstorm solutions for the epidemic.
Rebecca Boss with the Department of Behavioral Health said Narcan, an antidote for drug overdoses, can help. Emergency departments already have it, but she says family members of addicts need it too.
“It has saved a number of lives already. The more you get out there, the more lives you’ll save,” she said.
The community came up with other ways to tackle the problem including the idea of insurance companies paying more for treatment, organizations offering more drug take-back programs, and raising awareness about recovery houses.