1200

1200 Dead.

In 2018 Connecticut overdose deaths dropped after six years of steady rises. Was it a plateau? Or just a pause in a grim climb? The first six months of 2019 hinted that the deaths might be be on the upward move again, but none of us were prepared for yesterday’s news from the Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office.

1200.  An eighteen percent increase over 2018.

94% of the deaths involved opioids.

The dead ranged from 17 to 74.

The culprit: 

Fentanyl was present in 979 of the deaths (82%), its most ever, continuing its unremitting rise since 2012 when it was detected in only 12 deaths.

 

What’s the answer?

End the stigma. Treat drug users like we treat victims of heart disease, lung disease, diabetes. With compassion, love and evidenced based medical care.

Recognize addiction for what it is — a chronic brain disease, not a character flaw.

Make rehab available to those who want it and make medication assisted therapy (MAT) methadone and buprenorphine available to all who want it.

For those who aren’t ready for rehab or MAT, bring them in from the cold, open drug overdose prevention sites where users can be in the presence of trained providers instead of forcing them to shoot up behind dumpsters, in park thicket and in locked public restrooms where we find them dead.

Make naloxone as widely available as possible and drill in the message, never use opioids alone.

Sue the pharmaceutical companies for their pivotal role in creating the epidemic (lying about the addictive qualities of their products and for producing massive quantities of painkillers even though they knew they were shipping vast amounts to distributors who were then flooding the black market with their products.

Use the money to fund a drug war against addiction.

Above all, be kind to those afflicted.

***

More from the Medical Examiner’s report:

Heroin was present in 387 of the deaths, and only present without fentanyl in 88 of the deaths.

Fentanyl was present in 393 of the 463 deaths that tested positive for cocaine.

Xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer was present in 71 of the deaths versus none the year before.

Amphetamines or methamphetamines were present in 70 of the deaths, also the most ever, and a number rising in each of the last three years. Connecticut has largely been spared the meth epidemic, but it may just be a matter of time.

One-hundred twenty-three (123) of the deaths occurred in Hartford, the most of any city in the state.

***

Drug overdose deaths increased by nearly 20% in Connecticut in 2019, reaching a record-high 1,200

Press Releases

Calendar Years 2012-2019

Xylazine as a drug of abuse: Toxic effects to endothelial cells in combination with cocaine and heroin

1 Comment

  • R says:

    Why is it that pretty much anyone with a DEA number can prescribe opiates but we restrict methadone (for addiction treatment) and buprenorphine/Suboxone prescribing???