Enfield Fights Back Against Heroin Epidemic

Police say the heroin and opioid problem has reached epidemic proportions across Connecticut.

Now, towns like Enfield are fighting back. Chief Carl Sferrazza says there have been 17 heroin deaths in the past 18 months here in Enfield. That’s about one a month.

"Just as terrible are the near deaths we've had. We've had 65 more individuals that were able to survive through Narcan," he says of the drug used to save the lives of those who overdose on heroin.

He added that the problem is pervasive, touching every age, income, and education level.

"The heroin problem in our community is not isolated to one part of town versus another. We've seen it throughout the town," Sferrazza explained.

This year, Enfield joined a regional task force to tackle a problem that crosses town lines. The police department handles enforcement, social services works on prevention.

"We can't arrest our way out of this problem. True prevention is getting people who are using the drugs to be in recovery so they are not buying the drugs anymore," said Jean Haughey, Director of Enfield's Youth Services.

She tries to educate families about the dangers of relapse, saying that days after they rehab are the most dangerous. Both Houghey and Sferrazza point out that the typical heroin addict is not who people think.

"They think they're people who have been in and out of jail their whole life," said Sferrazza.

He added that addiction doesn't discriminate and often takes hold of people who had been prescribed opiod pain medication by a doctor.

"They want that same feeling. They can't get the prescription," Sferrazza said.

It's a cheap habit just three to six dollars a bag, he explained. Soon, addicts are hooked on heroin laced with the highly addictive prescription pills.

"Now you need two bags and three bags and when it gets unaffordable you see these crazy violent crimes," said Sferrazza.

By tackling the drug problem Enfield police hope they'll also cut down on other crimes. They say they’ve arrested 50 dealers in the past 24 months.

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