NEW FAIRFIELD – Providing information and inspiring action are the primary aims of New Fairfield’s Prevention Council (NFPC). The group–comprised of community members, school administrators, town leaders, church leaders, law enforcement officers, and medical community members–works to provide resources for residents in need, plus up-to-date advice for burgeoning crises, such as the national opioid epidemic.
Look to their Facebook page or Twitter feeds @nfprevents and you’ll find a steady drumbeat of eye-opening articles, invitations to attend training sessions, and more. During the month of April, the group is advocating for the statewide initiative, Change the Script, which has been created to address the local opioid crisis. Member, Sherry Hauck says, “As a local prevention council, we need to get the word out in order to have a direct tangible impact on the lives of those in our community and the Change the Script campaign/program provides resources to connect residents, local town officials, treatment and healthcare providers.” She went on to say that NFPC will work to increase “the awareness of prescription drug misuse, with a focus on decreasing the stigma of substance use/addiction with a toolkit of print materials and educational materials provided by the State of Connecticut.”
In conjunction with the campaign, NFPC has offered a free narcan (naloxone) training that was open to the public on Tuesday, April 17th. Given that opioid use is widely spread and affects every community, including New Fairfield, the group hopes that residents will take steps to become educated on how they can help prevent the spread of this epidemic or know what to do in cases of emergency. Regarding the secondary schools, Hauck says that as of now, “we are waiting for approval for Narcan to be allowed in the schools.”
They will also work to promote the nationwide prescription drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 28th. The New Fairfield Police Department is participating in the program and will happily accept prescription drugs from the public, which will then be properly disposed of. NFPC also wants residents to know that the Danbury Police Department has a permanent prescription drug dropbox at 375 Main Street that can be utilized by New Fairfield residents.
NFPC’s primary goal is help all town residents, but there is special effort to make students aware of the slippery slopes of substance abuse. Hauck pointed out that the group, “want(s) to help all parents (elementary/middle and high school) understand better what is going on, and for parents to talk to children of all ages.” She applauded recent letters that were sent to secondary school parents warning of the rise of vaping at the schools, saying that New Fairfield High School principal, Dr. Richard Sanzo’s letter was “strong and to the point.” She went on to say, “Vaping is a huge problem in NFHS and high schools around the country. Kids are getting away with vaping in school because it’s hard to detect.”
In the aforementioned letter, Dr. Sanzo appeals to parents, “I need your help by talking openly as a family about the negative consequences of vaping and working to prevent use.” He went on to highlight some of the nefarious marketing that is targeted to teens with vaping flavors such as cotton candy, and he included photos of vaping paraphernalia, many of which which have been designed to look like flash drives or other unassuming devices.
The schools are also happy to be bringing back motivational speaker Chris Herren, who candidly shares his story of addiction and recovery. NFPC and the New Fairfield Youth Commission are sponsoring an evening with Mr. Herren that is free and open to the public on Thursday, May 24th, 7:00pm.
The New Fairfield Prevention Council meets on the first Monday of each month at the New Fairfield High School Library at 7:00pm. All town residents are welcome to attend.
By Sarah Opdahl