Newtown’s Drug Problem

Newtown Bee Editorial

Newtown has a drug problem.

That is the kind of message that is a marketer’s nightmare, and there are a lot of people marketing Newtown these days, so it is also a message that is not mentioned very often in our community’s public discourse. Two women, however, are determined to make as many townspeople as possible aware of Newtown’s growing crisis of substance abuse among adolescents.

Dorrie Carolan and Donna DeLuca head up The Parent Connection, a group dedicated to fighting substance abuse by Newtown’s youth. Last week, in a commentary published in The Bee, they issued a warning to the town that “there has been for some time a culture of substance abuse among our youth that has escalated so greatly in recent years that we now find ourselves in what is undeniably a crisis.” To follow up this warning with information, The Parent Connection is planning a series of open forums for the public beginning next month. Every parent should attend.

There is already some disturbing information on the record. A survey conducted in Newtown last year and released this past May revealed: 44 percent of high school sophomores and 68.6 percent of seniors had consumed alcohol in the previous month — significantly higher than the 35.4 percent and 48 percent national averages. And significantly, three quarters of the eleventh and twelfth graders who said they drank reported that they averaged three or more drinks at a time, which means they were drinking to get drunk. More than a third of eleventh and twelfth graders reported that they were marijuana users. And most alarming, heroin use is on the rise, along with other opiates such as OxyContin, according to drug and alcohol counselor John Hamilton. He addressed Newtown Youth Services earlier this year, and reported that Newtown kids now have access to drugs that can take them from casual use to full-blown addiction in a weekend. In February and March, the detox facility where Mr Hamilton works treated 200 individuals from Fairfield County for addiction to OxyContin.

Perhaps the hardest part of admitting that there is a drug problem in Newtown is admitting that the problem is not limited to the kids using drugs. It is not a crisis for adolescents; it is a crisis for families. The solution is not as simple as “fixing the kids.” Whole families will have to take responsibility for both the problems of substance abuse and for its solutions. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has identified three crucial risk factors for adolescent substance abuse: chaotic home environments, particularly when parental substance abuse or mental illness is present; ineffective parenting, especially for children with difficult temperaments and conduct disorders; and lack of mutual attachments or nurturing. Conversely, families in which there are strong connections among family members, parental monitoring and clear rules of conduct, and respect for spiritual and educational growth are more protected from the risks of substance abuse, according to the institute.

It may be unpleasant to hear that Newtown has a drug problem, but it is the truth — and individuals, families, and communities ignore the truth at their own peril. Let the marketers toss and turn. The rest of us can sleep better knowing that through the leadership and example of The Parent Connection, Newtown is finally looking this problem square in the face. And that is the first difficult step in protecting all of Newtown’s children from the nightmare of substance abuse and addiction.

Used with permission Copyright © 1999-2004 Bee Publishing Company




Mailing Address
PO Box 187
Newtown, CT 06470

Office and Meeting Address
2 Washington Square
Fairfield Hills
Newtown, CT 06470

Mission Statement

The mission of the Newtown Parent Connection is to educate and empower the community in the prevention of substance abuse and to embrace families in crisis.

Support Groups

Hope & Support

A weekly gathering for parents and caregivers with children or loved one's affected by substance use/abuse. This group provides a confidential venue to receive information and support concerning how to handle their child's or loved one's suspected or confirmed use of substances. Facilitated by an experienced drug & alcohol counselor.

Meeting Information Here

A compassionate venue for those

who have lost a child or other loved one due to catastrophic circumstances. The group is facilitated by a licensed therapist.
Meeting Information Here

First Wednesday of month
7:00 to 8:30 pm


Founder & Executive Director

Dorrie Carolan and her husband raised their four children in Newtown, CT. Starting the Parent Connection was never part of her plan.

The issue of substance abuse became personal when her eldest son, Brian, became addicted and subsequently died at age 28 of a prescription drug overdose. Through the struggles caused by Brian's addiction, Dorrie became aware that this was an issue that affected many others in the community. She founded the Parent Connection in 1993 in an attempt to network with other concerned Newtown parents. It was the impetus behind many policy changes in town and within the schools.

Our Board of Directors is a committed body of volunteers who support our mission to keep the youth of Newtown safe and substance free.

Dorrie Carolan  - Executive Director

Joseph Hemingway - President 

Gene Vetrano- Vice President

Frank Crudo- Treasurer

Kevin Carolan -Secretary

Maggie Conway

David Cooper

Anne Dalton

Kathleen Moonan

Ken Rodbell

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