Drug Overdose, The Other Health Emergency
Last Monday at the State Capitol, I joined state officials and advocates to recognize International Overdose Awareness Day. Unfortunately, COVID is not the only health crisis we are dealing with right now. The damage done by the opioid crisis continues to take to many lives and damage families across Connecticut and our nation
Because of the social and emotional toll on state residents due to the pandemic and the job losses, there has been a 22% increase in opioid overdose deaths in 2020. Sadly, even before the pandemic the number of overdoses were increasing after seeing some improvement in 2018. At the 2020 rate, Connecticut will surpass last year’s record of 1,200 overdose deaths.
Many families have been impacted by this deadly disease, to many young lives cut short. Almost everyone, myself included, has family member or knows of someone effected by this terrible crisis. We need to help as many people as we can, raise awareness to this massive problem that effects our families, neighbors and friends.
On Monday, we listened to stories from families effected by addiction. Both inspirational and alarming sad when they speak of lost love ones, most at such a young age, with what should have been there whole life ahead of them.
We have tried to help over the years, I am proud of some of the legislation I have worked on a bi-partisan bases to solve this health emergency. I commend my fellow legislators and those on the front lines combating the addiction and overdose crisis.
Some of the laws we have past recent years are:
- Limiting the supply for opioid prescriptions for adults and minors
- Advocating for legislation that approved the wide spread use of naloxone (NARCAN), making sure first responders had access and training to this life saving medication
- Fixing legal language to protect those who administer naloxone (NARCAN) to try and save a life
- Prohibiting health carriers from requiring prior authorization for coverage of naloxone (NARCAN)
- Modifying the prescription drug monitoring system so doctors and pharmacist can better spot abuses
- Increasing the accessibility to the overdose reversing drug naloxone (NARCAN) by first responders and family members
- Expanding access to drop-off boxes for unused prescription drugs to all pharmacies
- Increased penalties for those who deal in fentanyl
- Fought for expanded treatment for those addicted including alternate therapies and funds for additional rehab facilities and beds
Clearly there is more work to be done. The work always starts with awareness and to let people know that there is help. Help starts with life-saving NARCAN and then information to help with recovery. If you suspect you have someone struggling with addiction in your life, please have NARCAN available. It literally can save a life, and a life saved is an opportunity to recover.
So on Monday we remembered those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of a drug overdose, we came together to spread the message that overdose deaths are preventable, there is help for those who need it.
For more state and local resources please contact: The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services has the Prescription Drugs and Heroin Prevention and Treatment program https://portal.ct.gov/DMHAS/Programs-and-Services/Opioid-Treatment/Prescription-Drugs-and-Heroin-Prevention-and-Treatment.
More regionally we have: The Hub, the Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization for SW CT www.thehubct.org/covid The Hub CT and Melissa McGarry. Melissa is the project director for TPAUD, Trumbull’s Prevention Partnership www.tpaud.org.
State Representative, Trumbull