State responds to spike in prescription drug overdoses

Officials in Rhode Island are promoting new emergency regulations in response to a recent spike in deadly prescription drug overdoses.

Among the new rules are more training in overdose treatment and prevention.

Two men who've experienced the effects of a prescription overdose and are now in recovery say services in Rhode Island have helped them stay that way.

"I had a big problem with prescription drugs such as Oxycontin," said Dennis.

Dennis is one of many men and women who are now in a position to help others at the Anchor Recovery Community Center stay clean.

George is another. It was a while ago, but both men overdosed on prescription drugs at one point in their lives.

"I don't really remember passing out, but I remember waking up cold and freezing," George said.

George and Dennis are lucky they didn't die from their overdoses.

A new report is out in which Rhode Island is said to have the 13th highest state drug overdose mortality rate in the country when it comes to prescription drugs.

NBC 10 dug through the report and besides the headline, what's interesting to note is that of 10 recommended strategies to curb drug abuse and to prevent overdose deaths, Rhode Island already has employed eight of them.

"The Providence Center is on the cutting edge not only of treatment and recovery supports, but they're always talking about changing the legislation. There are lots of voices that are speaking out. They're a presence in the State House and a presence in the community," said Jim Gillen of Anchor Recovery Center.

Jim, George and Dennis said presence matters in preventing deaths.

"We're trying to erase that stigma with the recovering addict. We're showing people we can be productive members of society today," Dennis said.

Dennis and George are certified recovery coaches.

A community listening panel will be held Feb. 19 to address the overdose epidemic in Rhode Island. It's open to the public.