East Longmeadow officials talk with parents about opioid abuse - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

East Longmeadow officials talk with parents about opioid abuse

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Jo-Anne Ryan knows first hand what it's like to lose a child to drug addiction.

Her son, Isaiah Brown, died from an overdose at just 21 years old.

“You never want to think it's your kid,” she said, Tuesday night at Birchland Park Middle School during the Opioid Education and Awareness Committee event.

She, along with 100 parents, took steps at learning the warning signs of drug use.

“I don't think that East Longmeadow is any different than a lot of the communities in this area,” school counselor Diana Gomes said. “I think every community struggles with substance abuse and addiction.”

In the past two years, East Longmeadow police chief says the town has seen 10 drug-related deaths.

“There's no magic pill to fix this,” Chief Mellis said. “Communication is, and that's what we are doing here tonight. The doors are open for communication.”

The state saw 114 suspected opioid-related deaths in December alone.

“If these were car accidents, if there were deaths in combat, if these were homicides, I think people would be outraged,” Col. Timothy Alben, superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, said.

Col. Alben told parents Tuesday that it's important to look for red flags, like unexplained behavior and children stealing from family members.

“There are issues and people are dying so we've got to take it seriously and this is a great step,” Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said about Tuesday's informational session.

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