GROTON -- The communities of southeastern Connecticut have been stepping up to combat the growing heroin epidemic.
The town of Groton is focusing on breaking the stigma of drug addiction. In order to do so, those who have battled addiction first hand shared their stories Wednesday night in an open discussion at Fitch High School.
Nine speakers, including recovering addicts and treatment representatives, gave a presentations on their experiences with addiction.
The forum, which was hosted by Shine a Light on Heroin-Two Towns Combat The Heroin Crisis, included a question and answer session with the audience.
One woman in the crowd, Kathleen Dufficy, shared her story with FOX 61.
Dufficy’s son, 32-year-old Matthew Patrick Barrett, struggled with addiction for 12 years. He lost his battle in November.
"The night of his accident he had numerous drugs in his system and the accident was so severe that the car was cut in half,” Dufficy said.
She’s speaking out in his memory to help take the stigma away from addiction.
“He had a felony on his record for possession, he couldn't get a job, and every time someone would turn him away it seemed like he would relapse,” she said.
In her son's memory, Dufficy wants to help others rise from addiction to recovery, a goal she shares with other mothers dealing with similar issues.
“It's a family disease and not only is the person addicted dramatically affected, so is the family,"Tammy De La Cruz said. "It's the worst feeling I can't even describe."
Tammy and Joe De La Cruz are hoping their non-profit organization, “Community Speaks Out,” will help break the stigma of addiction by being a place families and addicts can turn to.
In sharing the story of their son, who is a recovering addict, they hope others will know they are not alone.
Wednesday night’s speakers include:
- Meagan E. Seacor, Community Relations Manager, Stonington Institute
- Frankie Novajovsky, RU Director: Faith-based aspect of addiction
- Tom Greaney: 12-step programs/treatment representative
- Groton Police Department
- Recovering addicts
- Joe de la Cruz: Family member of an individual recovering from addiction
- Lisa Johns: Family member who lost their child to addiction
In memory of Matthew Barrett, a walk and fundraiser will be held on September 24 at Veteran's Park in Jewett City. All donations will benefit sufferers of addiction. For more information contact Kathleen Dufficy: email@example.com or Kelly Barrett: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Community Speaks Out," is hosting a family addiction support group on Wednesday, March 23, at Groton Public Library from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., all are welcome to attend.