In Connecticut, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner announced that by the end of 2017, more than 1,000 people will have died due to drug overdose. In the August 28 press release, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill revealed his predictions for the remainder of the year, along with statistics on the state’s “opioid crisis.” On August 30, Dr. Gill said the overdose body count was 1,072.
As with many states that served as the face of the now “nationwide epidemic” of opioid use or abuse, Connecticut government entities see more overdoses than those in other states. “They are stark, staggering facts that attest the epidemic ravaging every community in Connecticut. 1,078 is a number that is reflected in faces and voices lost to their families and to the world,” Senator Blumenthal said. They also see some of the most fentanyl specific overdoses.
The number of overdoses has affected the work of the State Medical Examiner’s Office. They have to investigate every suspected overdose case; an activity that takes time to complete and the office is already down two staff members. Regardless, the examinations are required by law and completed daily. Of the 500 overdoses this year, fentanyl surpassed heroin as the most frequent substance at fault.
“Now we’re seeing a lot of fentanyl coming in from China, and we found it in people’s houses. They’re dead in their home and the day before they received a package from China and it was filled with fentanyl,” Dr. Gill explained. He also reported that carfentanil had made it into the community. Connecticut’s first-ever carfentanil overdoses occurred this year. In a statement the same day, Gov. Dannel Malloy said that “to address this issue, we need full force of the federal government to help prevent the influx of fentanyl from abroad — particularly from countries like China.”
Dr. Gail D’Onofrio, Yale New Haven Hospital chief of emergency services, told the public that the increase in fentanyl supply and use came from lower manufacturing costs. Dr. D’Onofrio had worked with the state to create the “Connecticut Opioid Response” team. The Connecticut Opioid Response “CORE” team’s purpose is to work with the Connecticut government to encourage “addiction treatment options.” One of these so-called “treatment options” is methadone replacement therapy. These treatment options are “evidence-based,” D’Onofrio explained.
He also warned people not to “be experimenting with pills, including those purchased over the dark web, since the product advertised may not be the one they end up using.”
The statements and press releases served two, possibly three purposes: a pity plea that encourages budget-makers to allocate more funding to sectors that deal with overdose; a notice that addiction treatment with methadone replacement therapy is somehow better than other, cheaper options; and also to inform the public of the increase in opioid overdoses.