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Press Release

Rhode Islanders Urged to Attend Opioid and Heroin Awareness Town Hall Meeting

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Rhode Island
Ninth in a series of town hall meetings scheduled for tomorrow

PROVIDENCE – In continuing partnership with substance abuse prevention coalitions and student assistance counselors across Rhode Island, United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha on Wednesday evening will moderate the ninth in a series of town hall meetings and community forums addressing the growing epidemic of opioid and heroin addiction in Rhode Island and elsewhere. Parents, students, teachers, school administrators, community leaders and residents from across Rhode Island are encouraged to join the discussion at Barrington High School, beginning at 7:00 p.m.


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.


The open discussion will include experts from the medical, treatment, education, and law enforcement communities. Scheduled to participate in the discussion are 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.


United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha commented, “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. 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.”


To date, 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.


For program information or to schedule an opioid and heroin addiction and prevention awareness program, please contact the Substance Abuse and Prevention Coalition director in your community; Elizabeth Farrer at the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals at (401) 462-0644; or Jim Martin, Public Information Officer and Community Outreach Specialist at the United States Attorney’s Office at (401) 709-5357.


For information about in-school awareness programs, please contact a student assistance counselor in your community; Sarah Dinklage, Executive Director of R.I. Student Assistance Services; or Jim Martin, Public Information Officer and Community Outreach Specialist at the United States Attorney’s Office at (401) 709-5357.


Assistance and information about treatment options for opioid addiction is available from a licensed counselor 24-hours a day, 7 days a week by calling Prevent Overdose RI at 942-STOP (942-7867).





Updated February 14, 2017

Community Outreach
Press Release Number: 17-15