State Rep. Pam Staneski Op-ed: Working to Curb Opioid Abuse

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As Connecticut communities continue to deal with increased emergency room visits and drug overdose deaths caused by the opioid epidemic the legislature, in an effort to help curb this crisis, amended and enacted several laws during the 2017 session.

Narcan is an opioid antagonist that can reverse an opioid drug overdose.  In 2017, Connecticut amended the law on prescriptions for narcan to allow a physician to prescribe, and a pharmacist to dispense, the antagonist to a family member, friend, or other person who would be in a position to aid a person at risk of an overdose.

Coverage for substance use disorder by certain individual and group health insurance policies will now be required to be covered if medically necessary. These include inpatient detoxification services that are medically managed and will apply to all health insurance policies issued in Connecticut with one exception—self-insured benefit plans that are exempt from state mandates because of federal laws.

Legislation was also passed this past session that requires the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Policy Council to develop a one-page fact sheet on opioid drugs that includes the risks of opioid drug use, the symptoms of opioid use disorders, and available services in Connecticut for those experiencing these symptoms. The sheet will be available on the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) website.

As part of the public education initiative, there will be more public service announcements on the risks of opioid use. Along with the PSA campaign DMHAS has just rolled out a new link on their webpage that shows the current availability of substance use disorder treatment beds— http://www.ctaddictionservices.com.

This new website link can help those in need of a bed and begin their recovery immediately without the past practice that involved had those making phone call after phone call with many giving up after several “no vacancy” answers. Facilities are required to update their bed availability throughout the day.

With almost 1,000 drug overdose deaths this year these are just a few of the steps that Connecticut has made with the hope that more people will choose to fight their addiction.

If you or a loved one is battling addiction, please consider calling the DMHAS ACCESS LINE at 1-800-563-4086 for help, it is manned 24/7.

As always I am available to discuss this or any matter of importance to you.