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Blumenthal, Courtney Hold New London Opioid Abuse Forum

Toby Talbot

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congressman Joe Courtney of Connecticut held a forum in New London to hear from state public health officials, addiction treatment centers and police chiefs from Southeastern Connecticut about the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic.

The Connecticut state Medical Examiner’s office said more than 720 people overdosed on opioids last year. That’s more than double the opioid overdoses the state saw the year before.

Courtney said at Monday’s forum that President Barack Obama should declare a public health emergency for the opioid abuse epidemic because it’s causing nearly 80 deaths a day nationwide. He said Obama should request funding for the heroin epidemic the same way he has requested funds to fight the mosquito-borne Zika Virus.

“We talk about treating and responding to an emergency like Zika," he said. "The emergency that exists, right there, for heroin and opioid abuse should also be included in that request.”

Courtney and Blumenthal are conducting forums like this across the state. They say that, based on the feedback, they plan to introduce companion bills in the House and Senate that would create emergency federal funding for public health and law enforcement departments fighting the opioid abuse epidemic.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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