National Opioid Overdose Epidemic
The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. Opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) are highly addictive and in 2015 opioids killed more than 33,000 people – more than any year on record. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.
For information about the national epidemic, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at:
Close-up on Connecticut
The misuse of prescription medications and opioid-based drugs has increased significantly over the years and is a public health concern in Connecticut as well. This misuse includes taking medications in higher doses than prescribed, for a purpose other than that for which it was prescribed, or taking a medication that was prescribed for another person or obtained off the streets. Opioid overdose is often characterized by a decrease in breathing rate which if not quickly addressed leads to death.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT OPIOID OVERDOSE:
Common Risk Factors for Opioid Overdose:
Mixing opioids with other drugs, particularly alcohol or sedatives
Resumption of use after a period of abstinence from opioid use, such as recent release from a rehabilitation center or from incarceration
Elderly persons may forget that they already took their medication and accidentally re-take the same medication
Younger age groups, specifically teens or early 20s exposed to peer pressure or a social environment where there is drug use
Signs of an opioid overdose:
Face is extremely pale and/or clammy to the touch
Body is limp
Fingernails or lips have a blue or purple cast
Vomiting or making gurgling noises
Cannot be awakened from sleep or is unable to speak
Breathing is very slow or stopped
Heartbeat is very slow or stopped
What should I do if I see an overdose?
Call 911 immediately!
Support the person’s breathing
Administer naloxone (Narcan) if you have it
Lay the person on their side once they have resumed breathing
Stay with the overdosed person until the ambulance arrives
Opioid Family Stories
Using Naloxone to Reverse an Opioid Overdose:
Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution Program
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health:
- In Connecticut, residents are more likely to die from unintentional drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident;
- Many of these deaths are linked to overdose of prescription opioid painkillers;
- According to a 2013 CDC report, the Connecticut age-adjusted rate for drug induced mortality is 16.4 per 100,000 population compared to the national rate of 14.6.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Visit the Connecticut Department of Public Health at the following link:
Heroin Overdose and Addiction: A Public Health Issue
Prescription Drug Overdose and the Role of Health Care Providers
Prescription Drug Overdose in Teens and Young Adults
General Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Strategies
Current Laws related to Opioids Overdose Prevention
The Governor’s Connecticut Opioid Response Initiative
The CORE plan seeks to accomplish this by means of the following strategies:
- Increased access to treatment
- Decreased risk of overdose
- Increased adherence by clinical providers to opioid prescribing guidelines
- Increased access to naloxone, the antidote to opioid overdose
- Increased data sharing across agencies and organizations
- Increased community understanding that Opioid Use Disorder is a medical condition to increase treatment and decrease stigma
Waterbury CORE Program
Mayor Neil M. O’Leary is a strong leader in the effort against opioid abuse in the City of Waterbury and for communities beyond the City as well. The Mayor’s Opioid Task Force developed an opioid response plan even prior to the State CORE program. When the City of Waterbury received a 3 year, $90,000 grant ($30,000/year) to deliver selected CORE strategies, the funding enabled the Waterbury Public Safety Departments to implement the plan developed by the Mayor’s Opioid Task Force. The Public Safety Departments – the Waterbury Fire Department, the Waterbury Health Department, and the Waterbury Police Department – work in close collaboration and within their individual areas of strength and jurisdiction on the Waterbury CORE Program. The Waterbury CORE program focuses on increasing Safe Use-Safe Storage-Safe Disposal of prescription opioids, and community recognition and ability to respond to opioid overdoses.
Safe Use-Safe Storage:
The Waterbury Fire Department and the Waterbury Health Department are providing free onsite training for businesses and community groups to prevent fatal opioid overdoses. For more information about scheduling training, please call Nicholas Palermo at the Waterbury Health Department at 203-346-3903.
Proper disposal of prescription drugs is of critical importance to prevent illicit diversion of prescription medications, e.g., sharing, selling, theft. Secure, locked Rx Prescription Drug Drop Boxes are the most reliable means to ensure safe disposal and incineration of unused prescription medications.
It is important to note that flushing medications is not considered proper disposal because it is not safe for the water in our lakes, rivers and streams. For more information on how to safely dispose of prescription medications, visit:
To find a convenient drop box, visit the following link from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection: http://www.ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?q=501922
The Waterbury Police Department provides anonymous, secure, locked Rx Prescription Drug Drop Boxes in the lobbies at the Waterbury Police locations:
Waterbury Police Station, 255 East Main Street, Waterbury. Unused prescription medications can be properly disposed of here 24/7, 365 days per year, no questions asked.
Waterbury Community Relations Office, 70 Pine Street, Waterbury. Unused prescription medications can be disposed of here, Monday-Friday, 8 am-4 pm, no questions asked.
The Waterbury Police Department also provides Home Visits on the first Wednesday of each month, and as needed, for elderly/homebound living in Waterbury to collect and properly dispose unused prescription medications; to register for a pick-up, call 203-574-6903.