Lawmakers, state officials, advocates mark ‘International Overdose Awareness Day’

There was a time when Rodney Parks didn’t know if he would live to see another day.

“They’re going to find me in the street dead somewhere or whatever because at the end of it it’s just jail, institutions and death.” Parks said.

His battle with addiction has been long and hard.

“Cocaine was mainly my thing,” Parks said.

Parks is in recovery and volunteers with the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery.

“Every family has a person that is struggling with some type of addiction,” he said.

Parks wanted to grow his skills. On Friday he took part in a narcan training course in Willimantic along with dozens of other people hoping to do the same, including Senator Chris Murphy.

“Part of me being in my position is knowing Narcan,” Parks said.

“You just go up there in their nose and you squirt,” said Perception Programs Outreach Worker, Stephen Feathers who was teaching class.

“You have them laying on their back you have them laying on their back," said Feathers. "You go down their nose and you squirt.”

The event was part of a slew of statewide events marking International Overdose Awareness Day.

Senator Murphy kicked off the day with other lawmakers, state officials and advocates at a press conference in the Legislative Office Building.

“There is no way to control an addiction,” he said. “If you feel that a substance is starting to overtake you, you need to get help and you need to get help fast. And there is help available.”

Agencies like the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services are rolling out new measures to fight addiction, like expanding its 24 hour access line.

“People can call, get a quick assessment and be giving a ride to detox if they need a ride to detox,” said DMHAS Commissioner, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon.

Before someone struggling with addiction can get help, Parks said they must be willing to ask for it.

“Ask for help,” he said. “That’s the biggest obstacle. Ask for help and then when you receive the help allow that help to help you.”

Advocates also held a rally at the State Capitol Friday evening to raise awareness about the problem of addiction and overdoses.