Forum held on combating opioid epidemic - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Forum held on combating opioid epidemic

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Forum held to battle opioid epidemic in Connecticut. (WFSB) Forum held to battle opioid epidemic in Connecticut. (WFSB)

People gathered to develop fresh ideas to fight the addiction that claims hundreds of lives here in Connecticut each year.

About a hundred people came out to Griffin Hospital in Derby on Tuesday morning for a community forum about opioid abuse.

The state legislature is considering a bill that would limit opioid prescriptions for first time patients to a seven day supply.

The hope of Tuesday's forum is to come up with new ideas to help eradicate the growing problem.

“We're looking at over two deaths a day every day in the state of Connecticut,” State Rep. Theresa Conroy, who represents Seymour, Derby, Beacon Falls, said. “It's not just a city problem. It's in 165 towns in our last data, so it's reaching everyone. It’s touching families and communities."

On Tuesday, the Obama administration outlined several new plans to expand addiction treatment and mental health coverage services for users. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed to increase the patient limit for qualified physicians who prescribe buprenorphine - an FDA-approved medication that helps people end their use of opiates – from 100 to 200 patients. 

The Treat Act is expected to increase that limit from 100 to 500 patients. The act will also allow certified nurse practitioners and physician assistants with higher levels of training to also prescribe the medication.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said he spent Monday "getting to know the ins-and-outs of Connecticut’s opioid epidemic."

“I listened to recovering patients, health experts, and law enforcement personnel, and it’s beyond clear that we have a serious crisis in our hands. Connecticut has seen over 700 drug-related deaths in just the last year. Treatment centers have two-month waiting lists, individuals who are looking for help have nowhere to turn to, and emergency rooms just don’t have enough resources," Murphy said in a statement on Tuesday. 

After meeting with patients, health professionals, law enforcement, and advocates around Connecticut, Murphy explained the importance of the president's announcement. 

“The president’s announcement today is an important step toward stopping the devastating tidal wave of addiction and overdoses plaguing our nation. His actions will help tens of thousands of Americans get the life-saving treatment they need by doubling the number of patients a physician can treat with buprenorphine and making it easier for first responders to administer naloxone in life-or-death situations. His plan will continue to improve our current mental health parity laws and ensure that patients actually receive the mental health benefits they’re entitled to – something I’ve been fighting to achieve for a long time through my Mental Health Reform Act," Murphy said.

Murphy, who is a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urged for the passage  Mental Health Reform Act and the TREAT Act. 

“Congress needs to take meaningful action and commit real federal dollars to address the problem – not in a few years, but right now – so we can offer some tangible relief to communities in Connecticut and across this country. I urge Senate and House leaders to take up and pass the Mental Health Reform Act and the TREAT Act as soon as possible," Murphy said.

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