Angel remembers going to a Hartford gas station with his friends in 2010 to try out a new legal drug called K2.
Eight years later, as a bad batch of the synthetic cannabinoid has resulted in over 80 overdoses primarily on the New Haven Green over the past two days, Angel said he’s grateful that he didn’t stick with K2.
And he thanked God for helping him overcome other substance addictions that he has struggled with, and for directing him to Narcotics Anonymous, where he is now a regular attendee.
“I could have been one of those people overdosing out there,” he said.
On Thursday afternoon, Angel was one of around 20 people browsing the internet in the basement computer area of the public library’s main branch on Elm Street. Many people who hang out on the Green also hang out in the library’s lower level during the day.
Librarians and patrons on Thursday said that the library has been relatively quiet over the past two days, even as city police, firefighters, and other emergency responders have attended to dozens of overdose victims just steps away from the library on the Green.
Reference Librarian Jane Connolly noted that one person overdosed on the Temple Street ramp to the library last night. But, besides that incident, she said she had not heard of any other overdose happening in or around the library on Wednesday or Thursday.
Reading through local news coverage of the K2-induced overdoses on Facebook, Angel said that as someone who has struggled with drug addiction, he understands why the overdoses have continued at such a rapid pace.
“It’s sad,” he said. “It’s a shame that when individuals hear that it’s so strong, they want to try it” to chase that stronger high.
Angel said attending Narcotics Anonymous sessions has helped him stay away from drugs. He called on other people seeking hard drugs on the Green to seek out treatment not because any family or friends want them to, but because of the dangers that they present to themselves.
“There’s hope,” he said. “But you have to be selfish.”
Sitting next to Angel at the same desk of computers, Royce Anderson said that he does not struggle with any drug addiction.
But, he said, the recent waves of overdoses on the Green have affected his life too, because the managers of the halfway house that he lives at on Howe Street ordered him and his 20 housemates to leave work or wherever they were Wednesday afternoon and return to the home.
“They revoked our passes,” he said, noting that residents at the Howe Street home are usually allowed to leave the home for work or to look for work during the day. He said he was at a training program at the Job Corps Recruitment Office on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard Wednesday afternoon when he got a call from the halfway house, ordering him to return.
He said he was able to get out of the house on Thursday to go to a dentist appointment, and that he swung by the library on his way back to Howe Street.
“It’s really not fair,” he said. He said his supervisors said they didn’t want residents away from the house Wednesday and Thursday because they are concerned that residents with histories of substance abuse will find their way to the Green.
“I don’t really care what happens,” he said about the overdoses playing out on the Green. He said he just wants to stay clean, finish his three months at the halfway house, and then move on with his life.