New Efforts Underway to Combat Opioid Crisis

Black balloons have started popping up in front of homes in West Haven as a somber symbol of the opioid epidemic in the country as a healthcare service looks at a new way to help stop the cycle.

A crowd gathered outside West Haven City Hall Wednesday with a bunch of those balloons. The event is part of an effort to make things better.

“The black balloon I feel is the mourning part—of how many people how many people have died from this. Many, unfortunately, and many way too young,” said Mayor Nancy Rossi.

Rossi said the balloons are meant to raise awareness about the deadly opioid epidemic. According to the CDC, on average 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

In Connecticut in 2018, 1,017 people died from unintentional drug and opioid overdoses, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The data shows that 948 of those deaths - 93 percent - involved opioids. 

“I believe it affects all walks of life. All kind of income. It doesn’t matter,” Rossi said.

John Dixon, president and CEO of Bridges Health Care, is rolling out a new plan of action to combat the problem.

“The mobile addiction unit will be the fifth of its kind in the country,” he explained.

The mobile addiction unit is a van that will be parked strategically in locations in Milford and West Haven.

“On board will be a doctor who would be able to begin treatment if it’s appropriate for that person,” Dixon said.

Services will be free of charge.

“This van will be able to bring treatment to people who need it versus expecting people who need it to come in,” Dixon said.

They expect to launch the center in the next few weeks.

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