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Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Connecticut officials have responded to the state’s opioid epidemic with solutions like expanded access to overdose prevention kits at pharmacies, and limitations on pain killer prescriptions. But much of the fight to save lives is taking place after business hours, and in the most directly affected communities.

Many More People Seek Medical Help For Opioid Abuse

Aug 1, 2016

Health care claims for people with opioid dependence diagnoses rose more than 3,000 percent between 2007 and 2014, according to an analysis of insurance records.

The findings illustrate that the opioid problem is "in the general mainstream," says Robin Gelburd, president of Fair Health, a nonprofit that analyzes health care costs and conducted the study.

To say that Pam Livengood made an impression on Hillary Clinton’s campaign might be an understatement.

The Keene resident first met Clinton last year, on the candidate’s first campaign visit to New Hampshire. At the time, she spoke up about how her family’s been affected by the state’s substance abuse crisis – she took over guardianship of her grandson a few years ago because of issues stemming from her daughter's drug addiction.

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Governor Dannel Malloy recently signed legislation that would expand Connecticut’s effort to combat the opioid epidemic. At the same time, he announced a partnership with a team of doctors from Yale University to help develop a strategic plan.

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

The bill, which had previously passed the House, will now be sent to President Obama. He has indicated that he will sign it, despite concerns that it doesn't provide enough funding.

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Stamford’s Purdue Pharma, the company that makes the controversial painkiller Oxycontin, has responded to a damning article in The LA Times that accused Purdue of turning a blind eye to abuse of the powerful opioid.

Lori Mack / WNPR

In response to the recent rash of overdoses in New Haven, medical professionals are going out into the community to teach people how to use naloxone -- or Narcan -- the overdose antidote.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Sherwood Taylor remembered the time he saw a friend die of an overdose, just feet away from where he sat on his bed in his Hartford apartment.

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New Haven officials are declaring a public health emergency after nearly 20 people overdosed on tainted heroin or cocaine and at least three died in the city and surrounding towns.

Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

For lawmakers looking to address the crisis of drug addiction and overdose, limiting access to prescription painkillers and increasing availability of opioid-reversal drugs like naloxone have been two major policy points. A legislative push in Connecticut now aims to expand access to treatments as well. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Emergency rooms all over the country are seeing a huge surge in the number of people being brought in after overdosing on opioids or heroin. There’s no doubt this is a disruption for staff and a strain on resources. But one Connecticut hospital has decided this point of contact with the opioid epidemic actually represents a huge opportunity.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A new law aimed at combating Connecticut’s opioid and heroin epidemic will go into effect on July 1, 2016. The legislation, Public Act 16-43, has been described as one of the most comprehensive opioid laws in the country and includes several key provisions -- among them: a seven-day limit on all first-time, non-chronic pain opioid prescriptions. 

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For some patients looking to break their addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers, there's a drug out there that works. It’s called Suboxone, but government regulations and individual doctors have made it difficult to get, which is leading many to buy it illegally. 

Michael Dwyer / Associated Press

Pressing for the same or nearly the same limits on opioid prescriptions is one of the ways New England’s Republican and Democratic governors are working together to address the drug epidemic.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, both Democrats from Connecticut, met with public health officials and law enforcement in Stamford on Tuesday for a forum on the opioid and heroin epidemic. Himes says the epidemic is affecting more well-off communities, like Stamford, and he asked how Connecticut could use emergency federal funds to fight it.

Howard Smith / Creative Commons

New data show a surge in drug overdose deaths in Connecticut during the first three months of this year involving the opioid fentanyl.  The information was released on Friday by the State’'s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill.

Heather Brandon illustration / WNPR

As heroin and opiate addictions continue to spread among middle class communities, families who never thought they’d face this problem are finding out one simple truth: treating someone for an addiction can be really, really costly. 

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

Heather Brandon illustration / WNPR

Dave Mountuori sipped on a coffee and leaned back in his chair at a doctor's office in New Haven. He's 26 years old, and he was there to get a drug that’s turning his life around. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Lawrence and Memorial Hospital is donating the life-saving anti-overdose drug Narcan to six police departments around southeastern Connecticut. 

Heather Brandon illustration / WNPR

When it comes to understanding heroin and opioid deaths, data matters. But across the country, medical examiners and coroners vary widely in just how much information they provide on death certificates.

Greg Scott/WBEZ / Creative Commons

Efforts to stem the tide of heroin overdoses in Connecticut could get more difficult if a powerful new heroin additive makes its way to the state.

Michael Burghardt couldn't sleep. His legs were shaking, his bones ached and he couldn't stop throwing up.

Burghardt was in the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, N.H. This was his 11th stay at the jail in the last 12 years. There had been charges for driving without a license, and arguments where the police were called. This time, Burghardt was in after an arrest for transporting drugs in a motor vehicle.

The musician Prince had an appointment to meet with an addiction doctor the day after he died, a lawyer for that doctor said during a news conference this afternoon.

Minnesota Public Radio reports:

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Physicians, patients, and drug manufacturers are often at the center of discussions about pain and opioid abuse. But what about insurance providers? One Connecticut company said it's found a way to better manage pain, while reducing the number of prescribed opioids. 

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