Barrington to host opioid epidemic forum tonight

Event is open to the public, will feature panel discussion


Barrington High School will host an important forum on Wednesday night, Feb. 15 — an event focused on the growing epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction.

The forum starts at 7 p.m. and is open to everyone. US Attorney Peter F. Neronha will moderate the event, which will be run as a town hall meeting.

See a trailer for "Chasing the Dragon"

"Wednesday’s town hall meeting will include an overview of the addiction problem in Rhode Island, a screening of the powerful documentary 'Chasing the Dragon' - an unscripted and real-life look at the devastation of opioid and heroin addiction; the personal story of a parent, Deborah Parente, who lost her only child to opioid and heroin addiction; and a frank discussion about addiction and treatment, and the impact this epidemic is having in every Rhode Island community," stated a press release.

The discussion will feature medical, treatment, education and law enforcement experts, including Dr. James MacDonald, R.I. Department of Health; Michael Rizzi, treatment and behavioral healthcare expert; Barrington High School Student Assistance Counselor Joanne Royley; Barrington Police Chief John LaCross; Rhode Island Deputy Attorney General Gerald J. Coyne; and DEA Resident Agent in Charge Sam Masiello.

“Opioid/heroin addiction and overdose is the most serious non-national security related threat to public safety that I have seen in my tenure as United States Attorney," said Mr. Neronha. "While strong law enforcement interdiction efforts remain critical, equally critical are effective and widely available prevention and treatment measures. By alerting students to the threat and talking to them about making smart choices, and by engaging the community at large in a discussion with experts in all three areas, it is my hope that we, in partnership with many, many others, can help make progress in dealing with this public health crisis.”

Other opioid and heroin addiction community forums have been held in Providence, South Kingstown, North Kingstown, Middletown, Woonsocket, Bristol and Cranston. 

Students have participated in similar in-school opioid and heroin addiction awareness programs in Providence, Portsmouth, Johnston, North Kingstown, Central Falls, North Providence and South Kingstown.  

Community forums and school presentations are planned for other communities in Rhode Island as well.


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