Combat the Crisis: the crisis in numbers, and what the state is doing to fight it

Opioid Crisis

(WTNH) — News 8 continues our coverage of the opioid use disorder epidemic in Connecticut. In this segment of our Combat the Crisis series, News 8’s Darren Kramer looks at just how big the problem is and talks to people on the front lines fighting it.

The brutality of the opioid epidemic battering Connecticut has never been more clear than a 24 hour stretch in the Summer of 2018 when, on and around the New Haven Green, more than 70 people overdosed.

The overdoses were apparently caused by synthetic pot laced with opioids.

But this gruesome spectacle isn’t the norm. Normally the viciousness and death caused by opioid abuse plays out in quiet places, like homes and public bathrooms, and the numbers are staggering.

In Connecticut the number of overdose deaths has risen from 357 in 2012, to 1088 in 2019, so far.

Right now in Connecticut, you are more likely to die from a drug overdose than a car wreck.

WEB EXTRA: Darren Kramer talks about the crisis in numbers live from the News 8 newsroom

80% of the people who use opioids here don’t get treatment. And for the first time, opioids are number one on a dark Connecticut list.

The state opioid abuse crisis is priority #1 for State Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon.

“For years, the primary substance people reported having problems with was alcohol. So now we are seeing a switch and its heroin and other opioids.”

– State Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon

Delphin-Rittmon says the surge in opioid deaths isn’t limited to any one group.

One myth is that the opioid epidemic and substances [is] just in urban areas. We know now looking at the data looking at what we have seen over a number of years. All parts of Connecticut are impacted.”

– State Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon

She says to win this complicated fight we have a couple of weapons: medications like methadone are helping people get off opioids while still being able to work and live with family. But, she says, the big key is communication. Letting people know that help is out there, all they need to do is ask, and that they are not alone.

“The most important thing is letting the person know that you care about them. That you love them. And you’re going to be there for them no matter what.

Letting them know that recovery is possible. That they don’t always have to be where they are in that moment.

– State Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon

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