GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Last week a startling photo went viral after police in Ohio posted the picture of a grandmother and her boyfriend slumped over and unconscious from a heroin overdose. In the back seat, her four-year-old grandson sat watching the entire time. It’s a photo that captures the reality of the heroin epidemic gripping the nation.
“Once they hear that there’s a strain of heroin out there so potent that it can cause overdoses it instantly becomes the number one that they’re looking for,” said Sergeant Steven Smith with the Groton City Police Department.
Sgt. Smith says fentanyl laced heroin, like the drugs suspected in the Ohio case, is in big demand.
“I think they’re thinking they have a chance to get the ultimate high,” said Sgt. Smith.
Last year Connecticut had 188 deadly overdoses involving fentanyl. This year we’ve already surpassed that number, hitting 223 deaths by the end of June.
Groton City Police are also medical first responders. All of their officers are trained to administer Narcan, the overdose reversing drug. Their department serves just about 10,000 people and they’ve already had 15 overdoses this year that required Narcan.
“We recently had a DUI that involved heroin use as well. The individual was drinking. He was over the limit of alcohol, however, he also had taken heroin and because of that he was classified as an overdose,” said Smith.
Connecticut State Police say the epidemic is impacting safety on Connecticut roadways.
“When we have a motor vehicle stop or a traffic accident we’re seeing more incidents of heroin specifically being a factor in that accident,” said Sgt. Todd Fedigan.
Fedigan says troopers have administered 110 doses of Narcan since last October. One of them happened during peak rush hour traffic.
“As they’re driving southbound on 91 about 70 to 75 miles an hour, the driver’s head tilted back. So, he became unconscious. The passenger had to hop in the driver’s seat, pull the car over on the road on a three lane highway at speeds of 75 miles an hour and safely didn’t hit anybody,” said Fedigan.
Some good news though, police say public awareness is growing. They are responding to more calls because more people are calling 911 when they suspect a problem.