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Blumenthal Convenes Panel In Bridgeport On Combatting Heroin Epidemic

Richard Blumenthal
Richard Blumenthal Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will convene recovering addicts, community leaders, substance abuse experts and medical professionals to discuss measures to combat the heroin epidemic in Bridgeport.

The meeting also will include Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, Bridgeport Chief of Police A.J. Perez and Katherine Yacavone, president and CEO of Southwest Community Health Center. It will be at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Southwest Community Health Center, 46 Albion St., Bridgeport.

The event comes as the U.S. Senate debates comprehensive legislation Blumenthal is helping lead to stem the opioid addiction crisis. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act would equip states and local communities with a broad array of resources and incentives to combat opiate addiction and overdoses. Among the measures included in the bill are expanded prevention, training and education efforts, expanded availability of naloxone, additional resources to treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction, expanded disposal sites for excess prescription medication and enhanced prescription drug monitoring programs.

Heroin and opiate abuse has skyrocketed in Connecticut and nationwide in recent years. In 2012, there were 195 fatal heroin, morphine or codeine overdoses in Connecticut. In 2013, that number was 284. In 2014, it was 347. By 2015, 415 overdose deaths were reported. This rise in deaths and the increasing addiction rates for heroin are inextricably connected with the availability of illegal drugs, the lack of adequate resources to address addiction and the over-prescription of pain killers.

“Heroin and opiate abuse is a deadly, pernicious scourge plaguing communities across the state, claiming hundreds of lives and destroying families," B;umenthal said. "I have heard from recovering addicts, parents, medical professionals, substance abuse experts and community leaders from across Connecticut, all who have called for immediate measures to combat this crisis. I will bring their experiences and expertise to the Senate floor as I work to improve and pass this vital legislation.”

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