UPDATES ON THE OPIOID CRISIS IN CONNECTICUT

We previously reviewed the efforts taken in Connecticut to combat the opioid crisis, and reviewed the data pertaining to opioid related deaths in 2017 and 2018. (See GPS blogs Published March 16, 2018 and September 20, 2018). We also reviewed the law that became effective January 1, 2018, which law was meant to try to lower access to opioids and to address this growing epidemic. Certainly, the hope was for the number of overdose deaths to decline in the 2018 calendar year and moving forward.

Unfortunately, the projections for 2019 show no slowing down for the opioid epidemic in Connecticut and, in fact, show a predicted increase in overdose deaths by the year’s end. Through June, 2019, 544 people had died from drug overdoses, which is already an increase from the numbers during that same time frame in 2018. The numbers show that “[b]y the end of 2019, more than 6,200 people will have died from drug overdoses in the state since 2012, according to the medical examiner’s records.” https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-overdose-deaths-opioid-fentanyl-20190830-g7novfnktbd6nldk2cvcbnvllu-story.html While synthetic opioid fentanyl still contributes to a substantial number of those overdose deaths, being present in 78 percent of those deaths, Xylazine, a veterinarian tranquilizer, was also detected in 26 of the fentanyl deaths.

Our state is continuing to work on ways to try and combat this opioid crisis. In addition, Congress recently passed its own bill to combat the opioid crisis late last year, which bill had sought to take actions such as stopping the import of illegal drugs such as fentanyl, boosting research on non-opioid pain treatments, making it easier for Medicare recipients to get substance abuse services, and undertaking pilot programs. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr6 Additionally, it was recently announced that our state would be receiving a combined $17 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to allow the state to continue working towards these opioid efforts. https://www.courant.com/politics/capitol-watch/hc-pol-connecticut-receives-opioid-grant-20190905-vqbf7my7azfzfnitnwwmi4xi54-story.html

A number of the articles on the opioid crisis suggest, however, that the consensus is that the bill passed by Congress still may not be enough to make substantial headway with this crisis. The hope remains, though, that these numbers will continue to level off and perhaps even begin to decline in the near future. But again, only time will tell if these efforts will, in fact, assist in successfully combating this opioid crisis.

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