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DEA Chief speaks at Yale opioid forum

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)–Twenty-year-old Nicholas Kruczek was an athlete, brother and son. The Guilford resident died from a heroin overdose on October 10, 2013.

“What I don’t understand is if somebody’s life has been brought back to life due to an overdose and they’re in the hospital, why they’re allowed to just get up and walk out,” said Susan Kruczek, Nick’s mom.

On Friday afternoon Susan was one of many people invited to speak at an opioid forum held at Yale Law School. She is advocating for better programs and practices to combat the growing epidemic.

“He overdosed at Yale. They brought him back and he was 20 years old and we found this out after he passed away. He got up, walked out and died that night,” said Susan.

In what was one of his last days as the Chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg delivered the keynote address.

“This is a public health crisis. This is an epidemic. By the way, our society, we tend to overuse words, right? We say unique and historic and unprecedented when it’s anything but. This is an epidemic,” said Rosenberg.

Roughly 64,000 people died last year in the U.S. from drug overdoses. Rosenberg says the key to lowering that number is through education and tougher prescription drug regulations.

Another reason Rosenberg says the opioid epidemic demands more attention is the threat it poses on first responders.

“Because you live in Connecticut you might be familiar with eleven officers in Hartford last fall who went into a house with a flash bang device, part of a lawful search warrant, and that flash bang aerosolized the fentanyl that was in the house,” said Rosenberg.

In that case the officers were treated for exposure. Fentanyl is so deadly it can kill at the touch. The Hartford case was one of the reasons the DEA made changes in how drug busts are handled.

“We the DEA sent out a nationwide alert to all first responders, firefighters, emts, police officers, all federal agents. No more field tests,” said Rosenberg.

The conference featured several speakers, many sharing stories and important messages about the dangers of opioid addiction.

“If you’re in this room it’s because you care and if you care you gotta know,” said Rosenberg. “Educate yourself and then find someone you love and educate them.”

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