Congress Members Tackle State’s Heroin Problem

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    Heroin use is on the rise in Connecticut and elected officials are coming together to address the problem.

    This morning, U.S. Rep. Rep. Elizabeth Esty met in Waterbury with Mayor Neil O’Leary, Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone, local law enforcement and public health professionals about ways the federal government can help local efforts reduce illegal drug trafficking and support mental health.

    According to her office, 257 Connecticut residents died from heroin overdoses in the state, and Torrington and Waterbury are among the cities in her district struggling with the problem of heroin use.

    Esty is urging the Federal Drug Administration to approve Narcan, a drug to reverse overdoses, to be available over-the-counter and as well as in a form that is easier to use than an injection.

    She is also working toward more federal funding for law enforcement to help stop drug trafficking, as well as for treatment and prevention.

    In February, the state Department of Health issued a warning about an increase in deaths due to heroin contaminated with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than morphine or heroin, that can cause death. 

    At 10:30 a.m., another meeting will take place in New Haven.

    Police in several communities have been battling the problem of tainted heroin and Hartford police have made several busts.

    Meanwhile, local rehab centers said they don't have the resources to deal with the problem, and patients are in desperate need of help.

    These meetings come weeks after state leaders asked Congress to step in and help stop the heroin epidemic.

    In New Haven, Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, will meet with U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, as well as representatives from the New Haven Police Department, Yale-New Haven Hospital physicians and researchers and treatment experts from Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center.

    The meeting will be held at Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, at 400 Columbus Boulevard, in New Haven. It starts at 10:30 a.m.