Lawmakers, experts to open dialog about heroin epidemic - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers, experts to open dialog about heroin epidemic

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

Lawmakers and mental health advocates hope to launch a statewide dialog with doctors, police and other experts about deadly heroin abuse.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that in 2012 there were 195 heroin, morphine or codeine overdoses. By 2013, that number jumped to 284. A year after that, it was 347.

Blumenthal called that an abuse epidemic.

"Heroin and opiate abuse is a deadly, pernicious scourge plaguing communities across the state, claiming hundreds of lives and destroying families,” Blumenthal said. “Despite major advances in Connecticut, including the widespread use of Narcan and greater attention to the prescription of opiate pain killers, we have yet to control and contain this epidemic.”

He said the rise in deaths and the increasing addiction rates for heroin are inextricably connected with the availability of illegal drugs, the lack of adequate resources to address addiction and the prescribing of pain killers.

Blumenthal said he will host similar discussions later this month so different aspects of heroin and opiate abuse can be explored.

“This month, in communities across Connecticut heavily impacted by this tragedy, I will convene doctors, substance abuse experts, mental health professionals and law enforcement to discuss the response to this crisis and to identify ways that federal resources may be able to assist," Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal will be joined by state police Lt. Mark Sticca, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon and other officials.

The dialogue is slated for 10:30 a.m. in the Charter Oak Room of the Western Connecticut Mental Health Network in Torrington.

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