Monday, February 1, 2016

“Unprecedented” Number of Heroin Overdoses in New London Highlights Growing Problem

Governor's Prevention Partnership, February 1, 2016
by Kristen Granatek, Sr. Program Manager, Prevention Programs

"New London has had a rash of heroin overdoses last week. On Thursday, there were 9 overdoses, including one fatality, more than in any other 24 hour period. Three additional overdose patients were treated at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital on Wednesday.

All of the patients were frequent heroin users who reported using a brown form of heroin sold in similar packaging. It is suspected that this batch of heroin is tainted or laced with something dangerous, though with what remains unknown.

This incident highlights an increasingly common problem in cities and towns across Connecticut and around the country – a spike in heroin use by people of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds. In an article posted on, Mayor Michael Passero called it a growing health crisis that crosses all social and economic boundaries. "Our communities must face it and not leave the families who are touched by it to suffer alone and in shame," Passero said in a statement. In 2013, Connecticut saw 257 deaths in which heroin was involved, compared with 325 in 2014. While the 2015 total has not yet been reported, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner projected it to reach 381.

According to the most recent Connecticut School Health Survey, Youth Risk Behavior Component, 3.4% of youth report to have ever used heroin in their life. This is higher than the national rate of 2.2%. However, 11.1% of youth report using prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Recent research points to a strong correlation between prescription drug abuse and heroin use, indicating that people become addicted to prescription pain medications such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet, then move on to heroin to get the same high when their supply of pain medication runs out. Heroin is increasingly available, low cost and provides the same high (Partnership for Drug Free Kids, October 2015). Unfortunately, incidents like the one in New London this week have become increasingly common as heroin use reaches epidemic levels.

To read more about the overdoses in New London

If you are concerned about prescription drug or heroin use by your child or someone you know, please visit the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids or The Partnership’s website.

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