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2021 Connecticut Overdose Deaths Outpace Previous Years

Tom Gannam

More people in Connecticut are dying from opioid overdose deaths in 2021, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Overdose deaths in each of the first three months of 2021 were higher than the same months in previous years. Public health officials said people felt isolated due to the pandemic — which led to more drug use and more overdoses. Some recovery groups also stopped offering treatment or support groups during the pandemic.

Doctor Gail D’Onofrio is the chief of emergency services in the Yale-New Haven Health System. She’s behind Governor Ned Lamont’s Strategic Plan to Reduce Opioid Deaths, which works with regional and national agencies to change policies and introduce interventions to combat the opioid crisis.

“The increase in anxiety and despair that everyone has felt with COVID has really hit this most vulnerable population most. Individuals who had been in recovery may have lost their jobs or had the social isolation associated with COVID. They may have started to use again,” D'Onofrio said.

Most overdoses in the state involved the synthetic opioid Fentanyl — dozens of times more powerful than heroin. D’Onofrio said it is important to teach drug users to distinguish between fentanyl and other drugs.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.