Red Izzo: Drugs, Depression Rampant In Town

From his perch at Crossroads Ace Hardware, A.J. “Red” Izzo sees and hears a lot.

But in his 78 years in Westport, the former 2nd selectman candidate and Republican Town Committee member says, he’s never seen anything comparable to this. Izzo calls it a “life-and-death situation.”

He’s talking about “a major drug epidemic” — in the town, county and state — and an equally alarming rise in depression. Too few people are talking about these issues, he says.

A.J. "Red" Izzo, at his familiar spot in Crossroads Ace Hardware.

A.J. “Red” Izzo, at his familiar spot in Crossroads Ace Hardware.

Izzo hears of the vast amount of prescriptions doctors are writing. Of young people stealing pills from parents. Of the easy availability of drugs of all kinds, and the lack of services for anyone wishing to get off the roller-coaster of addiction.

“When I was growing up, Westport had 5,000 people and 2 facilities — the Westport Sanitarium (on what is now Winslow Park) and Hall-Brooke,” Izzo says.

“Now we’ve got 26,000 people, and nothing.”

Izzo says that too many Westporters are not talking about the twin scourges of drugs and depression.

“This is killing people,” he notes. “I don’t know the answer. But we have to understand the severity of it. It’s not a black/white, right/wrong issue. We have to start talking about causes and effects and solutions.”

Izzo shakes his head.

“I’m concerned about the young people. People of every age have to understand this is here, and it’s real. If we don’t face up to it, bad things happen.”

10 responses to “Red Izzo: Drugs, Depression Rampant In Town

  1. Literally an epidemic, but a very profitable one for some. If one were to look at this objectively, they’d conclude that our society is killing itself on purpose:

    http://theweek.com/articles/541564/how-american-opiate-epidemic-started-by-pharmaceutical-company

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/05/31/heroin-overdose-antidote-now-costs-double.html

    http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Mental-Health-Services-Hit-By-Budget-Cuts-372509671.html

    Thanks for bringing this up. – Chris Woods

  2. Red – you have a first-hand ‘view’ of the drug problem in Westport that has been pervasive for years – yet now it is growing beyond what we experienced years ago. I don’t have a solution to the drug situation – yet – it has to be diminished to some degree. How ? When? Where? are questions that seem to be overlooked now and it the past. We lost quite a few ‘peers’ due to alcohol years ago – and the same pattern has never been disturbed. This seems to be a place to begin – addressing that negative drug/alcohol pattern. You have my support! Keep at it!

  3. David Loffredo

    Could probably use a whole neighborhood of these:

    http://www.westportsoberhouse.com/

  4. Karen howes

    With heavy heart I read this…we have gotten away from hearing, feeling and acting upon our true selves, especially the younger generation. Apart from clinical depression..I feel the pervasive anxiety and depression present is an outward manifestation of PERCEIVED lack and alot of mental chatter and noise. Sometimes I feel kids THINK they aren’t enough, good enough, combined with the addiction of the outward validation and comparing on the facebook, texting, twitter , ETC…can take us away from hearing who we are…WE, the kids are ENOUGH , perfect in our imperfections ♡

  5. Chip Stephens - Staples 73

    The opioid problem is not just the young. There are adults and persons of all ages caught up in this epidemic. From Oxy to Heroine this situation is a plague effecting many communities. I can almost guarantee everyone in 06880 knows someone whose kid or friend has been touched by this problem be it addiction, thievery by an addict, or a broken family of an addict.
    Thank you Red for stepping up, I do not have much hope this message will get much traction. When the government is more worried about Zika, which in the scheme of things is minimal (yes I understand clinical virology) and spend billions on it, one wonders how that money and effort could change the opioid scourge just a bit . Pray

  6. Thank you for bringing this up on the blog. I frequently talk to people about the issue of chronic stress/anxiety and depression. It’s the elephant in the room. Bringing it up in forums like this is a step in the right direction. One tool to help with this is meditation. It helps slow the mind. Another important tool/factor is community (family, friends, etc.). People seem increasingly isolated in today’s world and anything that helps people experience they are part of community makes a big difference. I’ve been a member of Saugatuck Congregational Church and every time I go I feel great. The prayer component is like meditation (slows my mind) and the ceremony/post-church fellowship hour is a wonderfully uplifting community gathering that feels great. I have a similar experience when I go to my gym (Crossfit Westport) because of the combination of exercise with the social/community aspect. One of my clients recently talked to me about how much AA has helped him once he started to let his guard down and make friends in the group. Community is key.

  7. I must be living in a different town. I don’t know anyone with drug/depression problems

  8. Jack Whittle

    Opioid (such as Oxycontin) abuse is at epidemic levels nationwide and across Connecticut, and the pathway from Oxycontin to heroin is quick and easy, which explains the spike in heroin use and overdose deaths being seen in CT and elsewhere. Thankfully, this is something the Ds and the Rs in Hartford completely agree on: a bill which would limit initial opioid prescriptions to seven-day supplies and enhance prescription monitoring to help identify patients that are showing signs of abusive use was recently passed in the State House and Senate with unanimous support, and Gov. Malloy signed it into law on May 27th.

    Not necessarily the complete solution but a good step in the right direction.

  9. Estelle T. Margolis

    Dear AJ,
    Thank you for alerting us to this incredibly dangerous situation. Those of
    us who have lived here many years (51 for me) are out of the loop of young people and their present culture. I am grateful that all my kids grew
    up before this started.

    WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?

    Estelle T. Margolis

  10. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Why do (some) Doctors cave in to their patients, over prescribing painkillers and sleep medications — a lethal mix, not to mention antibiotics for viruses?
    Irresponsible.