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Being proactive about drug problem

The formation of an ad hoc task force on the opioid crisis and addiction, instigated by Selectmen Todd Arcelaschi at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Aug. 7, is a good way for the town to be proactive concerning its ongoing and very substantial problems with the opioid crisis.

At the meeting, Arcelaschi presented horrific statistics — national, statewide and local — concerning the crisis.

All of the statistics were quite disturbing, but the statistics on Winsted were probably the most disturbing of them all.

In 2016 the Winchester Police Department responded to 25 calls involving overdoses, and there were four overdose deaths.

This year so far, as of July 25, the department has responded to 20 calls involving overdoses, and there have been two overdose deaths.

As of July 25 both the department and the Winsted Area Ambulance have used Narcan a total of 21 times to save people from overdose deaths.

One overdose is enough, but this year the town is on the track to surpass last year’s overdose and death statistics, and that is way too much.

While Arcelaschi did not offer many details of plans for the ad hoc committee, what we would like to see is the task force meeting monthly in public to discuss plans for dealing with the town’s drug problems.

These meetings should consist of how to help addicts obtain and receive the treatment that they need along with ways to finally crack down on the problems.

The meetings should also include input from the public, along with experts, on how to educate the community, both young and old, in handling this problem.

We would like to see this committee be made up of members of the emergency services department, the Winchester School District, along with area professionals from throughout the Northwest Corner.

We would also like to see this committee consult and talk with officials and other residents from neighboring towns in order to collaborate and find solutions to this problem.

Also, input from the public at large should be critical to the committee and how it operates.

The committee cannot just meet quarterly and merely report on statistics. It needs to meet at least monthly to formulate and come up with solutions.

The essential problem is that the drug problem has gotten out of hand.

If this committee does not step up to the plate and be proactive instead of reactive, we fear that the crisis will get even worse.