National Opioid Overdose Epidemic
The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. Opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) are highly addictive and in 2015 opioids killed more than 33,000 people – more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.
For information about the national epidemic, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at:
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.
To Find Help & Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid dependency by state, visit the SAMHSA treatment locator:
Find physicians authorized to treat opioid dependency with buprenorphine by state.
Close-up on Connecticut
The misuse of prescription medications and opioid-based drugs has increased significantly over the years and is a public health concern in Connecticut as well. This misuse includes taking medications in higher doses than prescribed, for a purpose other than that for which it was prescribed, or taking a medication that was prescribed for another person or obtained off the streets. Opioid overdose is often characterized by a decrease in breathing rate which if not quickly addressed leads to death
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT OPIOID OVERDOSE:
Common Risk Factors for Opioid Overdose:
- Mixing opioids with other drugs, particularly alcohol or sedatives
- Resumption of use after a period of abstinence from opioid use, such as recent release from a rehabilitation center or from incarceration
- Elderly persons may forget that they already took their medication and accidentally re-take the same medication
- Younger age groups, specifically teens or early 20s exposed to peer pressure or a social environment where there is drug use
Signs of an opioid overdose:
- Face is extremely pale and/or clammy to the touch
- Body is limp
- Fingernails or lips have a blue or purple cast
- Vomiting or making gurgling noises
- Cannot be awakened from sleep or is unable to speak
- Breathing is very slow or stopped
- Heartbeat is very slow or stopped
What should I do if I see an overdose?
- Call 911 immediately!
- Support the person’s breathing
- Administer naloxone (Narcan) if you have it
- Lay the person on their side once they have resumed breathing
- Stay with the overdosed person until the ambulance arrives
Opioid Family Stories
Using Naloxone to Reverse an Opioid Overdose:
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health:
- In Connecticut, residents are more likely to die from unintentional drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident;
- Many of these deaths are linked to overdose of prescription opioid painkillers;
- According to a 2013 CDC report, the Connecticut age-adjusted rate for drug induced mortality is 16.4 per 100,000 population compared to the national rate of 14.6.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Change the script
Change the Script is a statewide public awareness campaign to help communities deal with the prescription drug and opioids misuse crisis. It connects town leaders, healthcare professionals, treatment professionals and everyday people with the resources they need to face prescription opioid misuse - and write a new story about what we can accomplish when we all work toward a shared goal. For more information, visit www.drugfreect.org.
Below are ready-to-use materials for distribution at the state level arranged across the three main continuum areas. Hard copy versions can be obtained by contacting the Connecticut Clearinghouse at www.ctclearinghouse.org or 1-800-232-4424.
Prevention: These materials are intended to raise awareness of the risks of addiction to prescription opioids. Materials include:
- General Brochure - Elderly Female Cover (PDF)
- General Brochure - Female Cover (PDF)
- General Brochure - Male Cover (PDF)
- General Flyer - Naloxone (PDF)
- General Flyer - No Photo (PDF)
- Prevention Flyer - Disposal (PDF)
- Prevention Flyer - Female (PDF)
- Prevention Flyer - Male (PDF)
- Prevention Flyer - Male (PDF)
- General Notepad (PDF)
- Prevention Poster - Elderly Female (PDF)
- Prevention Poster - Female (PDF)
- Prevention Poster - Male (PDF)
- Prevention Poster - Male (PDF)
Treatment: These materials highlight the proven ways of treating prescription opioid problems. Materials include:
Recovery: These materials highlight resources in the community to help people establish and sustain lifelong recovery. They include:
For more information, view the video “The Opioid Crisis Hits Home: Stories from Connecticut,” from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut at:
The Governor’s Connecticut Opioid Response Initiative
In October 2016, Governor Dannel Malloy announced the Connecticut Opioid Response (CORE) Initiative, a statewide strategy to address the opioid crisis in Connecticut. The CORE plan was developed with the Yale Schools of Medicine and Public Health, health insurance carriers, and other expert partners with the goal of cutting the death rate due to opioid overdoses.
The CORE plan seeks to accomplish this by means of the following strategies:
- Increased access to treatment
- Decreased risk of overdose
- Increased adherence by clinical providers to opioid prescribing guidelines
- Increased access to naloxone, the antidote to opioid overdose
- Increased data sharing across agencies and organizations
- Increased community understanding that Opioid Use Disorder is a medical condition to increase treatment and decrease stigma
Waterbury CORE Program
Mayor Neil M. O’Leary is a strong leader in the effort against opioid abuse in the City of Waterbury and for communities beyond the City as well. The Mayor’s Opioid Task Force developed an opioid response plan even prior to the State CORE program. When the City of Waterbury received a 3 year, $90,000 grant ($30,000/year) to deliver selected CORE strategies, the funding enabled the Waterbury Public Safety Departments to implement the plan developed by the Mayor’s Opioid Task Force. The Public Safety Departments – the Waterbury Fire Department, the Waterbury Health Department, and the Waterbury Police Department – work in close collaboration and within their individual areas of strength and jurisdiction on the Waterbury CORE Program. The Waterbury CORE program focuses on increasing Safe Use-Safe Storage-Safe Disposal of prescription opioids, and community recognition and ability to respond to opioid overdoses.
Safe Use-Safe Storage
The Waterbury Fire Department and the Waterbury Health Department are providing free onsite training for businesses and community groups to prevent fatal opioid overdoses. For more information about scheduling training, please call the Waterbury Health Department at (203) 573-6679.
Proper disposal of prescription drugs is of critical importance to prevent illicit diversion of prescription medications, e.g., sharing, selling, theft. Secure, locked Rx Prescription Drug Drop Boxes are the most reliable means to ensure safe disposal and incineration of unused prescription medications.
It is important to note that flushing medications is not considered proper disposal because it is not safe for the water in our lakes, rivers and streams.
For more information on how to safely dispose of prescription medications, visit:
The Waterbury Police Department provides anonymous, secure, locked Rx Prescription Drug Drop Boxes in the lobbies at the Waterbury Police locations:
- Waterbury Police Station, 255 East Main Street, Waterbury. Unused prescription medications can be properly disposed of here 24/7, 365 days per year, no questions asked.
- Waterbury Community Relations Office, 70 Pine Street, Waterbury. Unused prescription medications can be disposed of here, Monday-Friday, 8 am-4 pm, no questions asked.
- The Waterbury Police Department also provides Home Visits on the first Wednesday of each month, and as needed, for elderly/homebound living in Waterbury to collect and properly dispose unused prescription medications; to register for a pick-up, call 203-574-6903.
Additional Resources from the Waterbury Police Department
LiveStory Report on Waterbury's Public Safety Response
Substance Abuse Prevention/Behavioral Health Promotion
Jennifer L. DeWitt, LADC, LMFT, CAC, CPS
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