Library to host free public discussion on opioids for Oct. 26

drugs-photo-by-baitong333By JEN CARDINES


Wheeler Clinic, Bristol Hospital, and the Southington Public Library are sponsoring a community discussion on opiate and heroin use on Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., in the library. The event is free and open to the public.

A six-member panel will be present to discuss facts about drug overdose, misuse, support groups, and recovery. The panel will have representatives from Bristol Hospital, Wheeler Clinic, Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, and Southington’s Town-wide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS) coalition.

Judith Stonger, Wheeler’s vice president of prevention, wellness and recovery, will facilitate the discussion. “Communities across the country face an unprecedented addiction crisis linked to heroin and opiate use,” she said in a press release.

Last June, the Southington Public Library held a community forum as part of its “Long Range Plan.”

“The issue of drug abuse, especially heroin, was the number one concern raised by participants at this event,” said Susan Smayda, library executive director. “We decided that we didn’t want to waste any time and started to work immediately to put together a program that would educate Southington residents about this serious problem.”

Information will be provided about Wheeler’s medication-assisted treatment programs and their Southington Health Outreach Project, which connects Southington residents to behavioral health and primary care services, as well as other community resources.

Wheeler’s medical director of addiction services, Dr. Alkesh Patel, will be speaking at the forum about the access and availability of medication assisted treatment. “The mission is to address addiction,” said Patel. “We need to openly discuss and shy away from the stigma that we can’t talk about it.”

The Community Conversation on Opiates and Heroin event is a way for the community to come together and actively talk about the drug addiction issues that many people face. Addicts, friends and family of addicts, people who work with those affected by addiction, and anyone who is interested in the event is encouraged to attend.

Registration is required because space is limited. To register, visit and click on Calendar of Events, or call 860-628-0947 ext. 6552.

Further questions can be emailed to

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