The number of recent probable synthetic marijuana overdoses in New London in the last two weeks is in the double digits.
That statistic has the city jumping into overdrive to address the K2 problem and how to help those who keep using it.
New London’s human services director, Jeanne Milstein, met with the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) and a couple of New London-based service providers on Thursday for a strategy meeting about getting users help—possibly before they end up in the hospital or police custody.
“Many times people have experienced unimaginable trauma, they’ve had very challenging lives,” Milstein said.
She mentioned targeting some of the frequent users and exploring emotional reasons for why they use K2.
“We know who some of the frequent users are and now we’re trying to do some real prevention work so that they don’t use again,” Milstein said.
Milstein mentioned doing more work with the recovery coaches at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. Next week first responders, city services and providers and the hospital will be talking about interagency approaches to K2 usage in New London.
Dr. Deirdre Cronin, the EMS medical director and emergency medicine physician at Lawrence + Memorial, acknowledged that getting people into treatment for K2 use is often challenging.
“Our hands are a bit tied because if the patient is competent to make that decision, we can’t force them to stay in the hospital,” Cronin said.
Identifying the drug in someone’s system can also be a challenge.
“Because these drugs are made in a laboratory and are not chemically identical to marijuana, they do not show up in a standard drug screen,” according to Cronin.
There are still questions about whether K2 is addictive and its long-term effects. Cronin said she does see people use it repeatedly.
Police are still actively investigating where the drug is coming from. Officers arrested Lisa Lozada and Thomas Brown on Wednesday for K2 possession after finding them using the drug in a hallway on Tilley Street, according to New London's acting police chief Peter Reichard.