The Opioid Crisis Hits Home: Stories from Connecticut

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The misuse and abuse of prescription medication and opioid-based drugs has increased significantly over the years to become a public health concern in Connecticut. 

Between 2009 –2014, there were nearly 2,000 accidental and unintentional opioid involved deaths that occurred in 152 of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns. The demographic breakdown is: 70% male, 84% white, mean age of 40 years, 70% pharmaceutical opioid involved, increase in heroin between 2012- 2014. 82% of those overdoses occurred in a residence.

According to national surveillance, heroin use increased by 83% from 2007-2013, and overdose deaths involving heroin more than quadrupled from 2000-2013. Heroin is similar to prescription opioids, and overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have also increased significantly in the last decade. The following link contains information on opiod use in Connecticut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKWr1izNHlo

Research findings co-authored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Injury Center in the New England Journal of Medicine suggest underlying factors related to the increase in heroin use. The journal article “Understanding the Relationship between Opioid and Heroin Abuse” concludes that efforts to curb inappropriate prescribing do not seem to be associated with increased heroin use. Main research findings indicate:

  • Increases in heroin overdose death rates were associated with increases in prescription opioid overdose death rates in several states.
  • The transition from prescription opioid non-medical use to heroin use appears to be part of the progression of addiction in a subset of opioid users.
  • Increased heroin use occurred before policies targeting prescription opioid abuse were implemented.
  • Increased availability, low cost, and high purity of heroin are often cited by users as driving increased heroin use.

The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS)  now has a  new toll-free number connecting residents seeking treatment and services for an opioid addiction to local walk-in assessment centers. Residents will now be able to call 1-800-563-4086, 24 hours a day, to connect them or a loved one to a walk-in assessment center in their area.

Callers who dial 1-800-563-4086 from within Connecticut will be directed to a walk-in assessment center in their area. In addition, callers will be followed up with a phone call by trained staff to determine if they were able to connect to necessary services and problem-solve any barriers they may have encountered.

Treatment works. The walk-in assessment centers can be accessed by calling 1-800-563-4086 or visiting the DMHAS website at www.ct.gov/dmhas/walkins. By calling and connecting to one of the assessment centers, people can get the support and hope they need to help beat addiction.

Photo by owlana