Doctors fear a new and troubling chapter has begun in Connecticut's growing opioid epidemic.
Experts have seen a disturbing trend with addicts using a dangerous drug originally designed as an elephant tranquilizer.
The opioid has already had deadly consequences in our state.
While most people keep sugar and spices in their kitchen cabinets, Sue Willette has Narcan.
The Meriden mom has a large supply of the opioid antidote which can reverse drug overdoses because she has seen the dangers of opioid abuse first hand.
“We are losing an entire generation,” she said.
Two of her three sons have had their lives turned upside down because of the epidemic. Willette didn't know there was a problem until a March night in 2015.
"There was a banging on my door my husband and I opened our door and there were eight armed police officers with their guns in my face, and they raided my house,” she said.
Investigators arrested her middle son Jonathan for dealing opioid's to support his addiction. Now he's in jail.
“I haven't touched my son in over two years, I’ve seen him through the glass but I have not physically touched him in two years,” Willette said.
A few months after Jonathan’s arrest, her youngest boy Chris went to rehab for opioid addiction.
“It was staring me in the face and I didn't have a clue,” she said.
Chris is clean now but every day is a struggle. Willette started a charity "The Roadway of Hope CT" to help other families touched by addiction.
But she's worried by the growing use of an extremely powerful synthetic opioid.
"It's this big, you take a piece that big on your fingernail and it could kill you,” Willette said.
A drug called Carfentanil, which was first developed as an elephant tranquilizer, caused the death of a Norwalk man in April, which is believed to be the first fatality involving the drug in Connecticut.
Dr. J. Craig Allen, an addiction medicine physician and medical director at the Rushford Center in Meriden, said the drug is 100 times more powerful than Fentanyl and 1,000 times more potent than morphine.
“Smaller amounts of this substance appear to be able to kill people even quicker,” Allen said.
The stuff is so powerful Allen says inexperienced users can overdose just from touching it.
Willette says Carfentanil's rise makes it more important than ever that state leaders devote more time and resources to fighting the opioid epidemic.
Willette's charity is hosting a free Narcan training session for Meriden residents later this week. For more information click here.
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