Sen. Richard Blumenthal called together a group of youth in recovery, educators and experts in hopes of combating a rise in heroin and opioid deaths.
He said that while the epidemic has impacted all demographic groups, 18 to 25-year-olds are most at risk. In the past decade, heroin use among young adults has more than doubled.
"Heroin and opiate abuse is a deadly, pernicious scourge plaguing communities across the state, claiming hundreds of lives and destroying families, with youth age 18 to 25 most at risk," Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said in 2012, there were 195 fatal heroin, morphine or codeine overdoses in Connecticut. By 2013, that number had jumped to 284.
In 2014, it skyrocketed to 347. By 2015, 415 overdose deaths were reported.
Blumenthal called the rise in deaths and the increasing addiction rates for heroin inextricably connected with the availability of illegal drugs, the lack of adequate resources to address addiction and the over-prescription of pain killers.
"We are not going to arrest our way out of this crisis, there has to be points for recovery, treatment services and other kinds of medicine that will help break this public health epidemic spreading across our state," Blumenthal said.
The call for the meeting came after 13 overdose cases and 1 death. They all came into Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London within the last five days.
"It could be either more pure, it could have Fentanyl in it we don't know," said William Savinelli, clinical director, Stonington Institute. "But it's a deadly batch, so we all know the effect on your respiration and people can die very easily."
While those cases were said to be isolated to the southeast portion of the state, lawmakers said heroin addiction is penetrating cities and towns across the state.
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