Posted on June 4, 2021
HARTFORD – State Rep. Billy Buckbee (R-New Milford) proposed legislation early in the legislative session to create a statewide ‘peer navigator’ program, emulating New Milford’s successful community navigator program. The bill, HB 5597 An Act Concerning Opioids, establishes a PILOT program to allow for five new peer navigators. The peer navigators will help facilitate engagement between providers of treatment services, improve treatment retention rates, and increase the capacity of the community to support those in crisis.
“This bill will save lives, that is the most important thing we can do as a legislative body. We are in the midst of climbing out of a pandemic, now we need to step up and face the stigma of addiction,” said Rep. Buckbee. “By creating these new peer navigator positions, we are addressing the issue head on and getting help to those who are in crisis.”
According to Buckbee, the state saw a stark 20% increase of overdose incidences over the last year. However, New Milford’s local statistics trended in the opposite direction by a decrease of 20% – a statistic attributed to local collaboration and efforts to connect those struggling with addiction to life saving services.
“Connecticut has positioned itself to be a national leader in how we approach opioids and those battling the grips of addiction. This legislation does not represent a complete solution, but we are making great strides in creating mechanisms to help as many people as we can,” said Rep. Buckbee.
Buckbee’s advocacy on the issue stems from his support of Brian Cody’s Law, which was proposed to take a fresh and more comprehensive approach to America’s battle with opioid dependencies.
“I commend the work of my colleagues on the Public Health Committee, where the bill originated, and those on both sides of the aisle in the House Chamber. This is not a partisan issue. Every person has been impacted by opioid addiction in one form or another,” said Buckbee, “Let’s keep going.”
The Senate must take concurring action on the bill before Wednesday, June 9, for it to move to the Governor’s desk for his signature.