On a zig-zag journey across Connecticut that started in early August of last year, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal was on a fact-finding mission about how to handle a growing opioid epidemic killing hundreds a year.
From Torrington to New London, and a host of towns and cities in between, Blumenthal, D-Conn., heard from law enforcement, substance abuse specialists, doctors, officials, informing a plan that could impact all of them. The senator also heard from those struggling with the addiction and their loved ones.
"Rampant opioid addiction is sweeping our nation like a hurricane—leaving overdose deaths and heartbroken families in its wake," Blumenthal said in a statement. "Their personal insight serves as the powerful foundation of this report. Their firsthand experience guides the detailed policy strategy we put forth. And their unwavering bravery transforms their personal tragedy into 'A Call to Action."
Last year, more than 400 people in Connecticut died from overdoses involving some opioid, the majority of which involved heroin, according to the office of the chief medical examiner. These numbers have steadily risen in recent years.
The nearly 30 page report expounds on more than 20 recommendations across five areas: prescribing practices, treatment, emergency medical response, law enforcement and veterans administration.
Among efforts to combat the epidemic highlighted in the report were increasing funding for naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversing drug, enhancing access to medication-assisted therapy, maintaining or increasing funding for narcotics task forces, and establishing consistent and safe prescribing practices at the VA.
Portraits Of Addiction: Heroin's Hold On Connecticut
The whole report can be read on the senator's website.