If you still believe we don’t have an opioid problem in the state, you need to think again. Because Connecticut’s on track to see over 1,000 overdose deaths by year’s end.
New Haven Register reports that even the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner says it’s time to wake up. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill estimates that the state will bury up to 1,078 people due to drug-related deaths. Last year, the state recorded 917 deaths.
Currently, 539 died from drug overdoses.
But, back in 2012, only 357 people died from drug overdoses. But, as the years went on, deaths started to skyrocket as more powerful synthetic opioids penetrated the market. Officials pin the blame on dealers lacing heroin with fentanyl and carfentanil.
To the right is an image depicting how much it takes to cause a lethal overdose. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin.
Fentanyl’s rise in popularity is because it’s cheaper to produce. So, dealers stand to claim a greater profit from making the switch.
As evidenced by the fact that fentanyl now outpaces heroin in opioid related deaths.
Meanwhile, Carfentanil, notorious for causing paramedics to overdose by simply touching it, is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.
Basically, it’s an elephant tranquilizer.
It started to enter the market last year. Already, four people died from consuming it.
However, first responders know it’s only a matter of time before it starts gaining traction as the demand for more powerful drugs rises.
And, should the drug take off in a similar fashion as fentanyl, medical offices will need a severe increase in staff and funding to deal with it.
Last month, President Donald Trump called the rising death toll a “national emergency.” By making the declaration, federal and state governments now have more access to resources to combat this rising issue.
Governor Dan Malloy says he’s already devised ways to help fight against the epidemic:
“To address this issue, we need full force of the federal government to help prevent the influx of fentanyl from abroad — particularly from countries like China.”
Malloy also signed in new provisions to help curb the rise of opioid addiction by restricting prescriptions and requiring electronic monitoring of scheduled drugs. Malloy also increased the public’s access to naloxone (Narcan,) an overdose-reversing drug.
The problem with drug addiction is that it affects everyone, no matter their race, gender, or age. Overdose victims can be as young as teens or old as WWII veterans.
And addiction can start from a singular prescription painkiller. Opioid-based painkillers produce a brief sense of euphoria. They also latch onto a brain’s reward center, so they can spark a dependence. Also, it’s possible to become immediately addicted.
So, once a person runs out of the drug, they turn to other methods to relive that high. Plus, there’s also withdrawal. Andrew McKenna, a former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor who turned to heroin, once described it as “the flu, but 1,000 times worse.”
He went on to say that no one’s ever died from withdrawal, but it sure makes it feel like it.
McKenna, who is now clean, details his rise and fall from grace in his book, Sheer Madness. He suffered a back injury while serving in the military and covered up his pain with prescription painkillers, which his doctor gave him.
Also, it doesn’t help addicts that heroin’s priced to sell. So, that’s why many former painkiller abusers turn to heroin.
Unfortunately, a good amount of people still believe addiction is not a disease. But a choice.
Which, in turn, prevents those from seeking the help they need. Because they feel like failures. So, the cycle continues.
Which is why the opioid epidemic is what it is. It’s a powerful machine that is easy to fall into, but nearly impossible to leave.
But, due to widespread awareness and people like McKenna telling his story, the dialogue can change. And, perhaps, we’ll see the decline of drug overdose deaths.
Do you think the war on drugs will ever come to and end? What needs to be done to end it once and for all?