GUILFORD, CT — Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, got a little help from American Idol winner Nick Fradiani in promoting this year’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
Scanlon and Fradiani, both of whom are Guilford High School graduates, helped spread the word about how important it is to safely dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs, which can sometimes lead to drug abuse.
“I reached out to Nick and just asked him as a fellow Guilford High School grad to do this and he was more than happy to do it,” Scanlon said.
The two put together a short video, which they shared on social media, to promote the event Saturday.
“This is something I have worked a lot on in my two years in office and something that is impacting a lot of young people here in Guilford,” Scanlon said. “So as two young Guilford guys who have done other stuff in our life besides this, we wanted to get together with some kids and put this together.”
Fradiani said he was glad to help out his old high school friend.
“Guilford is my hometown and I have seen [drug use] affect a lot of people that I know, a lot of people my sister knows, in town and outside of Guilford,” Fradiani said. “It is an important issue and I think it is something people don’t always want to talk about in a town like Guilford, where you don’t think there are a lot of problems, but it is everywhere now. It was a good thing to be a part of and it is such an easy thing for me to do.”
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means for disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.
Guilford and thousands of towns across the country, including many in Connecticut, opened up their police departments on Saturday to citizens wanting to dispose of unneeded prescription drugs.
Scanlon was at the Guilford police station on Saturday, along with Sue Kruczek, whose son, Nick, died of a drug overdose at age 20 in June of 2013.
Since his death, Kruczek, often with Scanlon at her side, has appeared at dozens of forums attended by overflow crowds where she has implored politicians to “do something” about the ongoing opioid crisis.
She was also at Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s side when he signed legislation that places a 7-day cap on opioid prescriptions in an effort to reign in what many called the “over-prescribing” of painkillers. There is an exception clause included in the bill for those receiving long-term prescriptions from their doctors allowing them to exceed the 7-day cap.
The legislation also requires first responders to be trained in the use of Narcan and to carry and dispense it. The drug is injected into patients to counter the effects of opioid and heroin overdoses.
Backers say the legislation gives Connecticut, along with Massachusetts, the toughest opioid legislation in the country.
Kruczek said she’s “thrilled” that the opioid crisis in this state is finally receiving the attention it deserves.
“It may be too late to save Nick,” she said, “but it isn’t too late to save hundreds of other young people in our state.”
Kruczek said her son’s addiction began when he was tossed a little white pill by a teammate before his first high school hockey game.
A Guilford group comprised of parents, youth, community leaders and law enforcement that works to reduce high-risk behaviors such as underage drinking and other illicit youth substance abuse, praised the event.
“One of our big goals is to reduce the abuse of prescription medicines and opioids in our community,” Karolin Regan, assistant director of Guilford Developmental Assets for Youth (D.A.Y), said.
“We want people to know that it’s important to dispose of unused and unwanted medicines and fortunately we have a drop box for this purpose at the Guilford police station that is available 24/7, 365 days a year.”
At last year’s drug take back day, Scanlon said more than 60 pounds of excess medication was collected in two hours.
Scanlon said with all the focus the opioid crisis has received this year he is hoping to “double that amount this year.”