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Scope of the Opioid Problem

Mother/Daughter ImageDrug overdose deaths, especially those involving opioids like heroin and fentanyl, have been increasing in the United States.

The rise in opioid overdose deaths began in the late 1990s with the large increase in the number of prescriptions for opioid pain medications. Opioids can be highly addictive and when people can no longer get them from a prescription, they may look elsewhere. Since heroin is often much cheaper on the streets than prescription pills, many people begin using heroin, resulting in significant rises in heroin-related overdose deaths by 2010. By 2013, there was a rise in overdoses involving synthetic opioids, especially illicitly-manufactured fentanyl and its analogues, which continues today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths nationally increased significantly by 14% from 2020 (28.3 per 100,000) to 2021 (32.4 per 100,000). Opioids—mainly synthetic opioids other than methadone—are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 106,699 overdose deaths nationally in 2021 (CDC, 2022). 

The Opioid Crisis in CT

Connecticut has been impacted by the opioid epidemic.

  • Over 8% of Connecticut high school students reported taking prescription pain medications without a prescription or differently than prescribed (Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2021).
  • In 2022, there were 1,452 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the state. There was a 4.7% decrease in drug overdose deaths in 2022, compared to 2021. The percentage of overdose deaths caused by fentanyl in 2022 was 86%.
  •  Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer often seen in combination with fentanyl, was found in 25% of overdose deaths. The full report from the Connecticut Department of Public Health can be found here.

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