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Opioid Epidemic in Connecticut: Is the Worst Yet to Come?

The opioid overdose is taking more lives in CT every year, with this year's death toll projected to be close to 888. Health officials and researchers are referring to the problem as “an epidemic.” Lawmakers have successfully passed several bills in response to the emerging crisis, including measures to create a detailed prescription database, to offer better training for public safety officials, and also to provide more accessibility to anti-overdose drugs. Still, the number of drug overdose related deaths in CT continues to climb higher than ever.

Nature Of Deaths Due To Drug Overdose
The majority of these fatal incidents occur due to abuse or overdose of substances like heroin, morphine, codeine or fentanyl. Most of the Connecticut’s opioid overdose deaths happened in homes, often at victim’s mother, sister or close relative. But such deaths also took place in a variety of other locations: for example, under an I-91 overpass, a parking lot of a pet store, or a motel room.

Soaring Death Toll Alarms The Government Officials
The number of people that died in Connecticut due to drug overdose continued to grow in the year 2015 with 723 people declared dead due to drug overdoses. Heroin-related deaths at an all-time high, according to the statistics released by the state's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, James Gill. Of those deaths, 415 were directly related to heroin and fentanyl (a synthetic opiate) was also included as a cause in 107 of those recorded deaths.

However, back in 2014, these numbers were lower: 327 and 37. And much lower in 2012, as there were 86 deaths due to the heroin overdose, and only one case of an overdose of heroin with fentanyl. In short, the count of drug overdose deaths has increased from 357 in the year 2012 to 723 deaths in 2015, as per the records.

"From 2014 to 2015, count of heroin-related deaths have increased by 27% and fentanyl deaths have skyrocketed by 148%," he claimed. "The vast majority of the tested fentanyl intoxication's have been found to involve illicit (and not prescription) fentanyl drug. Some samples of the fentanyl that we have detected are actually acetyl-fentanyl, an illicit (designer) fentanyl."

The Drug Epidemic Cycle Explained
There's an interesting insight shared by Joseph Sullivan, who has had the experience working as the Director of Planning for the CDC (Connecticut Drug Council) in the past and is now planning to retire from the position of CEO and President at the MCCA (Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism), which is a Danbury-based drug-abuse treatment organization.

“With all the rise in awareness about opiate abuse and overdoses, the kind of publicity it’s getting, and with the help of increased resources, we'll probably look back and say that in 2016 and 2017, the problem was at its peak,” Sullivan claimed. “That’s just the way all kinds of epidemics develop ... they increase with time, gradually, get to the peak and then finally, they decline. But it might be followed by something new, that’s coming from experience,” he continued. “Maybe people might avoid trying heroin, but they will probably go for something else. There could be another drug that has the potential to reach an epidemic proportion too.”

Though numbers tell just a part of this story and simply reveal the nature of the heroin epidemic in the state of Connecticut, the problem continues to grow in size. In reality, it’s the impact of such drugs on our society that shapes the true story and provides its actual context.

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