The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has released numbers on accidental intoxication deaths and is projecting that by year’s end the state will see over 1,000 overdose deaths if the trend continues at its current rate.
State officials say the majority of these deaths are due to opioid abuse. From January to June 2017, there have been 539 accidental overdose deaths in Connecticut, which projects to 1078 by year’s end if the current trend continues. That would be an 18 percent increase from the 917 deaths in 2016.
Data shows that 322 deaths so far this year involved fentanyl, which projects to 644 fentanyl deaths by year’s end, compared to 483 in 2016. Fentanyl has surpassed heroin as the most common opioid of abuse – so far 257 deaths have involved heroin, which projects to 514.
The data released by the OCME goes back to 2012 and shows a steady increase in accidental overdose deaths each year.
Opioid abuse is not a localized problem - President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency earlier this year. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 33,0000 people died nationally from overdose deaths in 2015. The president received criticism for making the declaration without formally signing it and sending it off to Congress, meaning formal plans and funding to combat the epidemic were not immediately pushed forward.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has spoken out multiple times about the crisis both in Connecticut and at the national level. Other Connecticut leaders, such as Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, have also spoken out about the crisis and continue to seek solutions.
Local law enforcement and other first responders have been making efforts to combat the epidemic, such as creating specialized task forces focused on cracking down on heroin and fentanyl abuse, and carrying overdose reversal drug naloxone.