PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — With Rhode Island having the 10th highest rate of overdose deaths in the country in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), local recovery groups are kicking their programs into high gear to help addicts before it’s too late.
Data from the Rhode Island Department of Health shows from 2013 to 2018, more than 1,700 Rhode Islanders died from an accidental overdose. In Pawtucket alone, police say they’ve responded to 36 overdoses so far this year.
Police provided Eyewitness News with a breakdown of the data from January to March, responding to 11 calls in January, five calls in February, 12 calls in March and eight calls in April.
The challenge addiction recovery groups like Pawtucket-based Center for Treatment and Recovery (CTR) face is getting people who are at-risk treatment before it’s too late.
In 2017, CTR received a small grant to complete a 13-week pilot program with Pawtucket police, where clinicians or a nurse would accompany officers in the community.
During that program, CTR’s CEO Wendy Looker said they made contact with at least 130 people.
“We prepared some backpacks that we gave the transient and homeless population that had snacks and toiletries and information on overdose, on fentanyl, and also where they can receive help if they need it,” Looker said.
Last year, CTR partnered with Preventing Overdose and Naloxone Intervention (PONI), distributing Narcan and backpacks with resources.
This April, groups like CTR are utilizing a new community liaison, made possible by grant money.
“They go to various meetings. So, the health equity zone meetings that are located in Pawtucket or Central Falls, the Prevention Coalition meetings, and we’re working on partnering with them on different projects,” Looker explained.
The liaison is also tasked with connecting with police, fire, doctors and more to provide them with information about overdoses and treatment available in Pawtucket.
“We’re hoping through this position that they’ll be much more coordination and collaboration of care,” Looker said.
For more overdose and treatment information, click here.