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Accidental drug overdoses are now a leading cause of death in Connecticut

Tom Gannam

A spike in fentanyl use is a contributing factor to the rising number of fatal drug overdoses in Connecticut, according to the latest data from the state Department of Public Health.

Data also shows the opioid epidemic disproportionately impacts Black and Hispanic communities.

Black residents died of accidental drug overdoses at a rate of 70 per 100,000 people in 2021. That’s compared with nearly 49 per 100,000 people in 2020. The rate for Hispanic residents rose to almost 44 last year from 38 per 100,000 people the year before.

State health officials plan to increase access to the overdose reversal drug Narcan and create more outreach programs that lead to treatment referrals.

The state Public Health Committee may also consider approving a pilot program with overdose prevention centers, which provide people with addiction a safe location where medical personnel can monitor for symptoms of an overdose.

Earlier this summer, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) pushed for federal action against the spread of illegal drug purchases through social media apps.

Health officials linked the growing number of overdose deaths to counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills sold online.

Mike Lyle is a former reporter and host at WSHU.

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