aclyn Lucibello, a former opioid user, jumped right into the deep end of the darkness.
“I am a convicted felon, and the choices of my past continue to live with me,” said Lucibello, who served three years at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut, and gave birth to a son while shackled to a hospital bed.
Lucibello shared her story at Quinnipiac as part of a seven-month, sharply focused summit, “Building Bridges and Finding Answers: The Opioid Crisis in Connecticut.” In her remarks, Lucibello described the spiral from a graduate student working as a social worker to someone she barely recognized, a woman haunted — and hunted — by addiction.
In response to this opioid epidemic sweeping the state and the nation, Quinnipiac partnered with the Connecticut Bar Association and the Connecticut Bar Foundation from November 2018 to June 2019 to come up with bold, innovative ways to help people with opioid use disorder. The Schools of Education, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine and Nursing all were involved in the forum.
After filling several prescriptions for Percocet to relieve post-surgical pain, Lucibello found herself hooked. But when the scripts stopped, the arrests began on larceny charges and other crimes in New Haven, North Branford and Guilford in 2009 to pay for her drug habit.
“Eventually, I could no longer get the prescription drugs, so what did I do? I turned to heroin,” Lucibello said, referencing the street-available substitute for the likes of OxyContin, Vicodin, morphine and codeine.
Although her story is raw with remorse, Lucibello is one of the lucky ones. In 2017, there were 1,038 accidental drug deaths in Connecticut, mostly from opioids, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
“Twenty-first century problems are too complicated to be solved by a single discipline,” School of Law Dean Jennifer Gerarda Brown said to hundreds gathered in the Ceremonial Courtroom.
The Quinnipiac summit brought together statewide experts representing law, medicine, public policy, social services, politics, education, nursing, law enforcement, EMS, treatment options and other fields. They all came to create connections, exchange resources and collaborate on solutions.
After that day-long kickoff in November, the attendees broke into 10 groups to study the opioid epidemic. Each group met several times before reporting their ideas, findings and strategies at a follow-up forum at Quinnipiac on June 7.