© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Connecticut News

Annual Opioid Reporting Matches Resources With Conn. Overdose Hotspots

opioidsmeds_apchrispost_180226.jpg
Chris Post
/
AP

Connecticut began tracking the number of drug overdoses in the state last year after a rash of opioid deaths. The first annual Statewide Opioid Reporting Directive report found over 4,500 suspected overdoses since July 2019.

To collect data, emergency medical services and the state poison control center worked together to identify overdoses, so authorities can be better prepared to intervene.

Dr. Suzanne Doyon, Connecticut Poison Control Center medical director, said the report is essential to respond to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

“I hope that it helps the residents of Connecticut, who otherwise don’t get a lot of information on overdoses, helps them get familiar that the problem is real, the problem is still occurring in the state of Connecticut. And we still have a lot of work to do," Doyon said.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health will continue to gather data over the next year to inform grant research for opioid use.

Overdoses are mapped online, and used by public health and safety officials to identify hotspots.

Gerard Vasco, a drug and alcohol counselor in New Canaan, said targeting substance use education is a positive step in battling opioid addiction.

“Fundamentally my belief is and always has been, that there has to be education in public schools starting in the fifth grade or sixth grade, he said. "Almost like a mental health class that’s a requirement like social studies or history or mathematics is.”

Officials said they will use age and gender data to help local health departments and community leaders mobilize resources to better provide education to prevent overdoses.

People between the ages of 25 and 39 were found to be most at risk.