The New York Times ran an article last month reiterating what is by now a widely known fact: Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. Please let that sink in. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. Last year there were 64,000 deaths nationwide. Many of these deaths are preventable if one never gets started down the path to addiction. The incredible rise in overdose deaths and addiction rates is often attributed to the introduction of opioid prescription pain relievers. Originally thought to be, or marketed to be, non-addictive, these opioid-based pain relievers proved to be quite the opposite. They are, in fact, highly addictive, and once addicted, it is very, very hard to stop. Prevention is the critical first line of defense and the key to success, although effective practices for helping users is a critically valuable component, too.

Our Ridgefield community is by no means immune to this national epidemic. Our town is struggling with use, abuse and overdose, too. And we must all work together to help each other. It starts at home, talking with family members about the risks of use and addiction. But it must spread to all the groups we associate with — schools, clubs, organizations, churches, teams, friendship circles, and more — until the whole community is openly discussing and supporting prevention efforts. No one can do this alone and we are all responsible, in some small way, for each other. Please join or support and encourage the efforts of groups like the Ridgefield Prevention Council (RPC), the Ridgefield Community Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCCASA), Project Resilience, etc.

And if you or someone you know is in need, there are many resources residents can turn to for help and support. Some are listed on our website, ridgefieldpreventioncouncil.org/resources.