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Government

Blumenthal, Courtney Ask For $600 Million To Combat Heroin Abuse

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Davis Dunavin
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U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney of Connecticut are asking Congress to approve $600 million to respond to what they call a growing epidemic of heroin and opiate abuse.

Blumenthal likened heroin and opiate addiction to a natural disaster, like a hurricane. That got nods from other speakers at the forum.

“We need a state of emergency," said Tammy De La Cruz of Community Speaks Out, a drug addiction advocacy group. "People are dying in droves. We need to save people. This is a state of emergency.”

Nationwide, deaths from heroin or opiate overdoses increased 6 percent from 2013 to 2014. Just-released numbers from the Connecticut State Medical Examiner show 415 people in Connecticut died from heroin or opiate overdoses last year. That’s a 27 percent increase from 2014.

Tammy Sisco told the forum three of her children are addicted to heroin. Her daughter was one of eight people who overdosed on one day in New London. Sisco said her daughter is not in treatment and is back on the streets, and that her daughter and other people addicted to heroin need long-term treatment to recover.

“It needs to be treated as a chronic disease, like heart disease, diabetes," she said. "And you have to be prepared for multiple episodes of readmitting patients who have relapsed, because they relapse over and over and over again.”

New London’s Lawrence and Memorial Hospital has treated 25 people for heroin overdoses since Jan. 27. Hospital officials said that’s unprecedented, and is related to a batch of tainted heroin.

Courtney told the forum he wants money to help police combat heroin trafficking and to provide more and better recovery for people addicted to heroin.

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