Forum on drug crisis set for Monday at United Church of Stonington

Forum on drug crisis set for Monday at United Church of Stonington

The Westerly Sun

STONINGTON — The Mystic Area Ecumenical Council is hosting its spring forum on a topic that is making an impact on every community in the state: the opiate crisis.

Jim Spellman, a founder of the grass-roots organization Shine a Light On Heroin, and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Maletz are teaming up to present a full picture of the plight at the United Church of Stonington, 67 Main St., at 7 p.m. on Monday.

Spellman, a former assistant principal from Westerly High School, recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan where he learned firsthand about the poppy industry and spoke with local groups about the heroin epidemic. He will talk about his trip along and discuss some of the statistics he’s found about heroin and its origins in Afghanistan. Spellman said he will also share an interactive demonstration about the alarming number of people who need treatment for heroin addiction but either can’t get into treatment or don’t complete the course.

Maletz, who’s an outspoken advocate for cautionary prescribing of opioid medications, will be sharing the physiology of the addiction and how brain chemistry and psychological predispositions play into the crisis.

“Between the two of us, we will be covering the problem from source to patient,” Maletz said. “My approach to this is that it’s really a disease and belongs in a medical model. We need to attack this one brain at a time because that’s where the problem lives.”

Spellman said that by now, the community is well past the point of making people aware of the epidemic. Now, he said, members of the community need to step up and take action to end the crisis. “We want people to take an active role in ending the heroin epidemic,” he said.


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