East Haven police warn of increase in fentanyl overdoses

East Haven police warn of spike in fentanyl overdoses
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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EAST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – Police are giving a warning along the shoreline following an uptick in fentanyl overdoses.

East Haven police said they want residents to keep themselves and loved ones safe by getting educated on the dangers.

Police said it’s about knowing the signs of an overdose and having access to Narcan.

In neighboring New Haven, health care providers are also out trying to keep people safe.

As the Clinical Director of the Community Health Care Van, Terry Bohonnon and his staff are on the front lines when it comes to treating those battling opioid addiction.

“We do harm reduction, we do needle exchange, and we give out fentanyl strips so people can test the product they have to see how much fentanyl is in it,” said Bohonnon.

Right now, that’s the biggest concern.

“Fentanyl changes this whole equation. Five years ago, there wasn’t so much fentanyl around,” Bohonnon said. “They’re going to use what they think is the required amount to sustain their habit and it can be 20 times as much. Highly dangerous.”

It’s to the point that this week, neighboring East Haven’s Police Department put out a warning following an uptick in fentanyl overdoses, asking residents to educate themselves about the dangers.

“Let us be clear: The East Haven Police Department cares about its citizens and is more concerned about saving lives and connecting those with addiction issues to care and treatment than it cares about making arrests.”

That includes encouraging people to not use opioids alone, having access to Narcan and highlighting Connecticut’s good Samaritan law, which means you won’t get in trouble if you call 911 and there’s drug paraphernalia at the scene.

“Far too many times we are seeing valuable minutes lost because people witnessing an overdose panic and clean up prior to calling 911.”

Police stress their focus is on finding those responsible for providing the deadly fentanyl.

As for the crew with the community health care van, their message is clear.

“It needs to be really understood that this is an illness. We didn’t look at substance abuse before like this. We don’t penalize people who have heart conditions or diabetes. We treat them, we get them into treatment. People who have substance abuse have an illness, they need to be treated, they need to be respected, but most of all they need to be protected,” said Bohonnon.

For more information on Connecticut’s Good Samaritan Law, click here.

For more information on the Community Health Care Van, click here.