Local leaders from several towns gathered in Enfield Tuesday for the first regional opioid task force meeting.
Representatives from Enfield, Suffield, Windsor, Windsor Locks, Somers, East Windsor and Ellington attended the 2 hour meeting.
Jean Haughey, Enfield's director of youth services, said lawmakers, school officials, police and others were invited to attend.
Enfield police said in their town alone, 12 opioid deaths were reported last year. The revival drug Narcan was administered to nearly 50 people. Just eight days into the month of March, there has already been one deadly overdose.
"I don't think it only happens to bad people, my son was a good kid, he had a great sense of humor," said John Lally, who said his 29-year-old son Timothy died less than two months ago, as he fought a heroin addiction.
"There needs to not be a stigma around it anymore,"said Cara Hagen, who is a recovering heroin addict. "People are dying and if they don't die, they're slowly suffering to death and we need to help them."
She said she knows first-hand that recovery is possible, and she hopes that the task force helps to save lives.
"Addicts sometimes make it hard to like them, make it hard to help them, and I can understand that - it happened to me. But don't give up," Lally said.
Members of the group said they plan to meet monthly through June. That is when they will shift their focus to smaller groups to develop specific treatment plans, drug enforcement and overdose response.
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