Experts will explain to families what they can do to help loved ones addicted to opiates.
In the next month, Koren Cappiello will cull through death records to see how many people in the city have died of opiate overdoses in the past year.
The coordinator of the Brockton Mayor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Coalition worries the number will be higher.
“At least once a week I hear someone overdosed,” Cappiello said. “Not all are fatal.”
To help curb the fatal overdoses, the coalition will be holding a forum on Wednesday night where Narcan, an antidote used to reverse an opiate overdose, will be distributed.
The forum — aimed at families with addicts — will also detail how to civilly commit an addict to a treatment program, how it can affect the family and what to do after someone leaves a treatment program.
Three family clinicians from High Point Treatment Center — Dan Miller, Maria Ferri and Paula Hendricks — will talk on those issues. Cappiello and a representative from the Brockton Area Multi-Services drop-in center will discuss how to reverse an overdose using Narcan.
The forum comes a week after a 22-year Brockton man, Lance Patrick Fiske, overdosed on heroin in his father’s Brockton home which also houses his father’s funeral business. There have also been a series of other heroin overdoses in the city and surrounding communities.
“There have been at least three deaths in the past week, two in Brockton and one involving someone from Whitman,” said Joanne Peterson, founder of Learn to Cope, a support group for families of opiate addicts.
She said addicts run the highest risk of overdosing right after leaving treatment programs or leaving jail.
“Some try to use again and it is too much for their system,” she said. “That is what people don’t realize: the risk factors when people leave treatment and relapse.”
The forum will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Men’s Addiction Treatment Center, 10 Meadowbrook Road, Brockton.
To reserve a seat, call Cappiello at 508-742-4405 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The forum is the latest effort by the coalition to draw attention to the growing problem of opiate addiction and the lives lost to heroin. The group held a vigil this summer outside City Hall to call attention to overdose deaths and has been working with several groups to distribute Narcan.
Narcan has been distributed to parents of addicts at Learn to Cope, support group meetings, at treatment programs and through the Brockton Area Multi-Services drop-in center at 81 Pleasant St.
Peterson said families need “as much education as they can” when loved ones are in treatment and get out.
“Things can happen right under your nose and you have no idea,” she said. “You need to know how to revive someone, how to assess the signs and symptoms of an overdose.”
The city’s opioid coalition, a volunteer group, was formed a year ago and comprises treatment specialists, a parents’ group and representatives from the city and Plymouth County district attorney’s office. Cappiello, the coordinator, is paid through a grant.
The coalition looked at who was dying of opioid overdoses, why people weren’t getting help sooner and what could be done to prevent the deaths.
The study found some people don’t know how to revive someone who is overdosing while others didn’t want to get involved and left without calling for help.
Narcan has been distributed to parents of addicts at Learn to Cope, learn2cope.org, support group meetings, at treatment programs and through the Brockton Area Multi-Services drop-in center at 81 Pleasant St.
More than 130 two-dose kits of nasal Narcan have been distributed in the city, this year.
The study by the coalition found 38 people between Jan. 1, 2007, and Sept. 15, 2008, died of an opioid-related overdose.
In 30 of the cases, the person was also using another drug or alcohol. Most of the overdose victims were white.
The study follows two similar examinations by The Enterprise in 2006 and 2007, detailing the opiate death toll in the region. Those reports, “Wasted Youth” and “Wasted Youth — Deadly Surge,” exposed the local epidemic and can be found at www.enterprisenews.com under “Special Reports.”
Maureen Boyle can be reached at email@example.com.