NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Overdose deaths are dropping in Connecticut, according to early data from the state’s department of public health. 

The initial statistics show that confirmed overdose deaths fell 6% in 2022 compared to 2021, but leaders are still waiting on the final results. 

Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, said the findings so far are promising.  

“Even if we have a signal that things are going in the right direction, there is a lot of work to do,” Juthani said. 

Dr. Kimberly Sue agrees. Sue, an addiction medicine specialist at the Yale School of Medicine, said there’s no end in sight. 

“Those statistics are people,” she said. “They’re our community members, our friends — and those numbers are still quite high.”

Sue said stress from the pandemic is the leading cause of increased drug use. Health professionals are also still seeing patients who can’t meet their basic needs.  

“We’ll receive people that are [nonfatal] overdosing numerous times,” she said. “People aren’t able to get what they need. It is quite grim. It is traumatic for patients.” 

Sue said part of the solution is more access to free or affordable Narcan, which helps reverse overdoses.  

“Some of my patients can’t afford co-pays of $3 or $5 for their medications, so we need to ensure that there’s multiple ways people can afford naloxone,” Sue said. 

Juthani said the state’s outreach efforts and programs are working hard to provide more resources. 

“Harm-reduction methodologies are proven, and they work,” Juthani said. “So, if we see a reduction in 2022 and what our preliminary data shows is sustained, we can feel confidence that investing in these types of strategies will continue to make a dent.”

Juthani said death totals are certified by Connecticut’s Office of the Medical Examiner and the final statistics should be available in the coming months.