The opioid crisis continues to take a deadly toll on the state. In 2018, more than 1,000 residents died from accidental overdoses, 93 percent as a result of opioids, according to data from the state’s chief medical examiner. Nationally, Connecticut is in the top 10 of states for rates of opioid-related overdose deaths.

But some novel efforts are underway to combat the scourge.

A front line of the war against opioid abuse, emergency rooms across the state are receiving thousands of doses of the life-saving antidote naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. Part of a $400,000 federal grant over the next two years, the overdose-reversal drugs will be given to high-risk patients as they leave the hospital. As naloxone prices have risen dramatically in recent years, health officials hope this measure will get the life-saving drug into the hands of those who need it most.

In Greater New Haven, what’s being billed as the state’s first mobile addiction treatment unit is hoping to reach patients before they require a visit to the emergency room. Launched this spring by Milford-based Bridges Healthcare and funded by a grant from the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the team is staffed by a doctor and a counselor who can assist people in withdrawal or ready to begin treatment. The van, which sets up at locations in West Haven and Milford, is also stocked with naloxone. While no other drugs are available at the van, team members can provide referrals to treatment centers and help with obtaining prescriptions. The free program is open to people over the age of 18.

Those needing help with substance abuse can call the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ access line at 800-563-4086. 

This article appeared in the May 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale here. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.

Albie Yuravich is the editor in chief of Connecticut Magazine. A product of the Naugatuck River Valley, he's also been a newspaper editor and writer at the New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, The Register Citizen and the Republican-American.