New campaign aims to end accidental drug overdoses

 Nicole Brazier

PAWTUCKET – “At 19 years old I would always be in the streets, drinking, doing cocaine.” “I found recovery, and a new way to live.”

That’s testimony from Rhode Islanders, who have chosen the path to recovery from drug addiction.

It’s featured in videos and ads are just part of a new campaign to spread the word that addiction is a disease. And recovery is possible.

“The more that all the information is out there for everybody to see it, the more somebody out there will one say be sitting there and see it and say you know what, I’ve had enough. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to risk this no more. And just call,” said recovering addict George O’Toole, who now works with those in need of help.

In 2014 Rhode Island saw 232 deaths as a result of a drug overdose, and numbers have been steadily increasing since at least 2009.

“These are not just numbers, these are each people. Our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters, our sons and our daughters, and our children,” said Health Director Dr. Michael Fine.

The campaign features an education program for the state’s healthcare providers and first responders on how and where to refer patients for treatment and recovery services, as well as the benefits of using the over–dose stopping drug Narcan.

You’ll also see ads on billboards, busses, and TV’s featuring the stories of 7 Rhode Islanders who have battled addiction, and one who lost two sons to the disease.

“The hardest thing in the world as a parent is not to enable your child. The hardest thing in the world is to say I’m sorry, but you have to leave. I had to do that,” said Elise of the terrible tragedies that struck her family.

“The ultimate goal is to get people to stop using. To realize the dangers of using,” said O’Toole.
(c) WLNE-TV 2015