Connecticut Receives $20 Million to Fight Opioid Epidemic

By:  Eliot Schiaparelli

Connecticut is receiving over 20 million dollars in federal funding to combat the opioid epidemic.

The state plans to buy 10,000 doses of Narcan. The drug, also known as Naloxone, is used in emergency situations to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal said he keeps the drug in his car in case he encounters an accidental overdose and says others should do the same.

“This simple auto-injector- Naloxone can be a life saver,” he said. “It's not a means of breaking addiction or treating substance abuse disorder but it can help save lives when there are overdoses.”

The funding will also go toward expanding access to medication-assisted treatment in Connecticut's major cities, including in shelters.

Officials also plan to allocate some of the funds to the Department of Correction to provide care and treatment for inmates with opioid use disorders both before and after release.

Finally, it will be used to put recovery coaches in hospitals around the state. These coaches are on call in 11 Connecticut hospitals already. Much like Alcoholics Anonymous, the coaches are addicts in long term recovery. When overdose patients come into the emergency room, they are immediately pared with a coach who guides them through treatment and recovery.

Senator Chris Murphy has emphasized that Connecticut is one of the first states to adopt this style program.

Connecticut officials have blamed big pharmaceutical companies and doctors for over prescribing opiate medications like oxycontin and vicodin. 

The funding will come in two $11 million grants over two years. An additional $3.6 million will also come from the CDC.

Connecticut is in the top ten states for opioid related deaths. There were 1,038 overdose related deaths last year. According to Senator Murphy they’ve already seen 500 opiod deaths in the first six months of this year putting them on track to see similar number from last year.