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Local organizations receive help in battling opioid crisis

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States and in Rhode Island, overdoses claimed the lives of 314 people last year.

But the state has been doing many things to fight the war on drugs, including providing funding, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Warwick is one of 15 recipients of 2019 State Opioid Response funding.

“I’ve been in my position for 20 years and I’ve never seen such a crisis,” said Lara D’Antuno, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Warwick.

The organization says they are using their grant to hire a social worker to help in the fight.

“We are so excited to receive this grant,” D’Antuno added. “The issues that the kids are facing nowadays are just beyond what a youth professional can do, which is what we have on our staff.”

They say their goal is to work in a protective way, such as identifying signs of drug use, but also in a preventative way, arming kids with support and coping strategies so they don’t turn to drugs.

“The stresses kids face these days are beyond what we ever imagined,” D’Antuno said. “There’s no relief, they get stress at school to perform, stress to perform physically in sports, socially there are so many stresses with social media.”

The grant will also help those already impacted.

“They see parents that have opioid addiction, they’ve lost loved ones to opioid addiction or different type of drug use, so they need somewhere to go,” D’Antuno said. “I’m encouraged by the fact that Rhode Island is embracing this crisis from all angles.”

The other organizations receiving the grant include:

In total, the state distributed more than $360,000 to the Kent & South County organizations.