Connecticut’s push to lower deadly overdoses


(WTNH) — The number of drug related overdoses in the state and the nation continues to rise. The Centers for Disease Control now saying that more people died in 2015 from heroin than people who died from gun related homicides.

It’s numbers like those that have the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services stepping up their efforts to combat addiction here in the state.

Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon says this year they began producing PSA’s featuring Connecticut families that have suffered and lost loved ones to drugs. One video features Craig and Bridget Jurczyk who lost there daughter Kasia when she was just 27 years old.

Another features John Lally, a registered nurse practitioner who lost his son Tim to heroin.

“He was well loved by our family but at the same time he struggled with both depression and anxiety and then his addiction,” Lally says in the video.

John’s video has been seen by people as far away as New Zealand and the videos have been viewed thousands of times.

“Many of the individuals who are in those PSA’s are saying the tremendous support and reaching out that they’re getting from people is really impacting their lives,” said Delphin-Rittmon.

While support for addicts and their families is growing so are the numbers of people dying from overdoses. The State Medical Examiner couldn’t provide exact fatal overdose numbers for 2016 at this time he released the following statement:

“Autopsy numbers are not decreasing and we are still investigating a high number of drug intoxication deaths each week. We have started to see deaths involving furanyl fentanyl which is an illicit designer drug version of fentanyl.”

DMHAS has held numerous opioid forums across the state this year to raise awareness. The Commissioner says they have several new initiatives and plans to help tackle the problem in 2017.

“We received a SAMHSA grant, a million dollars over three years, to expand access to buprenorphine in high need areas of the state,” said Delphin-Rittmon. “We also received a SAMHSA grant to do prevention work.”

DMHAS is also joining forces with the Connecticut Center for Addiction Recovery, launching a pilot program in area hospitals.

“We’re funding them to essentially partner with emergency rooms to be able to deploy peers so people in recovery, to emergency rooms when someone has been brought to an emergency room and has overdosed,” said Delphin-Rittmon.

The hope is seeing someone else succeed will help prevent another overdose,” she said.

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