Forum in Waterbury focuses on heroin use

Packages of heroin seized by Hartford police, March, 2014. (Photo: Hartford Police Department)

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH)– It’s a growing problem across the United States and right here in Connecticut. People are dying after overdosing on heroin.

As heroin deaths continue to increase in our state, so do the conversations about stopping the epidemic.

“It is something that touches every community from small towns to the suburbs, to the inner cities. It makes no discrimination whatsoever,” said Rep. Elizabeth Esty, (D) 5th District.

State and local officials came together Thursday from both Waterbury and Torrington. Two cities dealing heavily with the issue.

“Almost half, if not more of our arrests for drug arrests are heroin arrests so we’re definitely seeing an increase. Definitely seeing an increase in supply,” said Deputy Chief Chris Corbett, Waterbury Police Department.

“Our problem is just like the rest of the state and the rest of the country. It’s an epidemic proportion across the entire country,” said Chief Michael Maniago, Torrington Police Department.

The meeting was a chance for everyone to discuss ways to combat heroin use, which can have deadly consequences.

Packages of heroin seized by Hartford police, March, 2014. (Photo: Hartford Police Department)
Packages of heroin seized by Hartford police, March, 2014. (Photo: Hartford Police Department)

“The biggest problem is the respiratory arrest that occurs so they stop breathing and shortly after they stop breathing their heart will stop and they will die,” said Peter Jacoby, Emergency Department at St. Mary’s Hospital.

According to the state medical examiner’s office, in 2012 there were 174 heroin deaths. In 2013, that number rose sharply to 257.

That’s an increase of 48 percent within a year’s time and that’s why officials are trying to get a handle on this issue before it gets any worse.

Congresswoman Esty is calling for the FDA to make Narcan available over the counter, which reverses the effects of a heroin overdose.

“We know minutes matter when lives are at stake,” said Esty.

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