NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The Rose City has seen more than its fair share of troubles with the opioid crisis. In fact the number of overdoses in Norwich is higher than the state average.
The rise in overdose deaths is so high Norwich’s Department of Human Services now has Narcan kits. Many heroin users started out using prescription drugs and folks in the department feel some pain management rules need to change.
“A doctor gave us an example of someone who gets a hang nail but tells him that their pain level is a ten,” says Lee-Ann Gomes the Director of the Norwich Department of Human Services. “Well then he is obligated to prescribe something strong for that pain.”
Adding to their concerns is the recent investigation into Dr. John Paggioli of the Eastern Pain Center. The Norwich doctor lost his license to prescribe controlled substances.
“Those that need legitimate pain medications I”m sure they’re very concerned about where they will get that,” says Angela Duhaime, Partnership for Success Coordinator.
She’s concerned the patients will turn to heroin which is cheaper and may be easier to get. She also says a recent survey revealed something surprising among young people in Norwich.
“We did see a rise in prescription drug use,” says Duhaime. “Actually it was higher than alcohol and marijuana use.”
“It’s often times a coping skill and then that becomes habitual and that becomes the addiction,” says Angelo Callis, Coordinator of Youth & Family Services for the department.
A problem they don’t want to see continued into adulthood.
“We’re problem rich and we’re resource poor,” says Callis.
Some relief could come with the passage of Senator Chris Murphy’s Mental Health Reform Act. There is a piece in it which calls for physician training when it comes to pain management. There’s also a billion dollars in emergency funding to address the heroin and opioid epidemic.