The family of a University of Connecticut student is grieving after their loved one died following a battle with heroin addiction.
Health experts said the heroin problem is everywhere, and UConn has been making an ongoing effort to provide counseling help as well as education for students and faculty on the growing problem.
The UConn Engineering School and campus are mourning the loss of 22-year-old Gregory Colla, who was a civil engineering student who died this week.
In his obituary, his family revealed that Colla died at Manchester Hospital.
They said, in part “Greg fought a year-long off-and-on battle with heroin addiction. While the disease took his life too early, he never stopped being the sweet, shy, lovable son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend.”
Dr. Elizabeth Cracco, director of Counseling and Mental Health Services, said the university has a long history of providing counseling to students and faculty.
"I think there is a problem nationwide and statewide. We're grateful that people are starting to talk about it. We've had things in place around substance abuse, prevention and intervention for years, and continue to want to always do better,” Cracco said.
Many parents who lost children to drug or alcohol addiction are sending their stories online to the Colla family.
One family wrote that they lost their 29-year-old son to heroin a few weeks ago, and were also open in his obituary about his addiction so others would realize the scope of the disease.
"A week doesn't go by, a day doesn't go by when we hear about another loss in the emergency department,” said Dr. James O’Dey, of Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield Center.
He said he applauds parents and others for openly discussing the heroin problem, which he describes now as a crisis.
"We need to use this as an opportunity to educate the public about the importance of this issue and helping people recognizing that care and treatment is available and recovery happens every day as well,” O’Dey said.
UConn campuses have information readily available for anyone needing it, and more information can be found here.
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