Community Health Resources (CHR) in Putnam hosted Regina LaBelle, the White House Office of National

September 21, 2016

FROM THE NEWSROOM: PUTNAM -- Community Health Resources (CHR) in Putnam hosted Regina LaBelle, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Chief of Staff, to speak with nine of its female clients – as well as others from the area – about the ongoing national opioid epidemic.

LaBelle – who is originally from the Northeastern Connecticut area – was joined by USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Bryan Hurlburt. The two of them heard nine powerful testimonials from local area women that shared their own stories of addiction – all of the women additionally offered a tremendous amount of praise for CHR and the programs it offers.

Earlier in the day, LaBelle and Hurlburt were joined by U.S. Congressman from Connecticut Joe Courtney in Tolland, where a roundtable forum and brainstorming session between residents and legislators also focused primarily on combating the opioid epidemic that has been affecting communities on the national scale. They also attended a similar meeting at a recovery center in Willimantic on Monday.

In addition to listening to personal testimony Monday afternoon, LaBelle also fielded suggestions from the nine women on how to best combat the opioid issue and how to make programs – such as CHR and others like it – even more effective. Such suggestions included spreading more awareness to promote knowledge of such programs; less jail time and more help; sober homes for fathers and families; changing the system so individuals aren't forced to get in trouble or use to get help; and less rushing on the end of programs intended for treatment – though many of the women stressed that CHR is one of the only places they've been to, in terms of programs, that does not rush when assisting its patients.

LaBelle says the goal of Monday's meetings was to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic – especially in rural areas. LaBelle further explained that treatment options are harder to come by in rural areas versus larger cities, as well as explaining that sometimes the stigma that goes along with those recovering from substance abuse is tougher to deal with in rural areas – as cities tend to allow people to stay more anonymous.

Monday's meetings were organized with the help of LaBelle, the USDA, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and local legislators.

Tune in to WINY 1350 AM for the full story.

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