Push to help overdose victims after Narcan treatment
HARTFORD — Two bills that would allow or require first responders to take someone to an emergency treatment facility after being given Naloxone as an overdose reversal drug have been submitted to the legislature’s Public Health Committee.
The woman whose tragic loss of her son to a drug overdose caught President Donald Trump’s attention believes the bills are big steps forward in the state’s continuing fight to stem the opioid and heroin drug crisis, which killed about three people a day in Connecticut the past two years.
“When a person has been given Naloxone (Narcan) to reverse an opioid OD they wake up and immediately go into withdrawal,” said Sue Kruczek, of Guilford, whose son Nick died of an overdose at age 20 in 2013.
“We found after Nick passed away that he was at Yale — revived with Naloxone and then allowed to just get up and walk out. Nobody was called or notified. He was alone, sick, and left to deal with this on his own,” Kruczek said.
He died later that night of an overdose alone at his apartment.
“I could not wrap my brain around how that could happen. How was that OK? How is there no policy in place?,” Krucek said. “My child who was sick, couldn’t think realistically for himself, needed help and intervention and was allowed to walk out and die. This is crazy.”
One of the bills introduced call for “transportation to a treatment facility which provides medical triage to a hospital after administration or an opioid antagonist.”
The bill has been introduced by Reps. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, Michelle Cook, D-Torrington, Maria Horn, D-Salisbury, and Sen. Kevin Witkos, R-Canton.
“In the four years that I have worked on this issue I have had countless first responders tell me anecdotal stories about reviving someone with Naloxone only to have that person refuse to go to the hospital and then overdosing a second or third time later in the same day,” Scanlon said.
“By requiring automatic transports, I believe we have a better shot at helping that individual attain the moment of clarity they need to decide to get help whether it’s from a physician or one of the recovery coaches we now have at many Connecticut hospitals,” Scanlon added.
The other similar bill, has been introduced by Reps. Scanlon, Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, and Noreen Kokoruda, R-Madison.
It “allows a police officer who has a reasonable cause to believe that a person who has a substance use disorder and is dangerous to himself or herself or others or gravely disabled, and in need of immediate care and treatment, to take such person into custody and take or cause such person to be taken to a general hospital for emergency examination.”
Kokoruda said it’s a problem.
“We are by law releasing drug addicts when they are most vulnerable and need our help more than ever,” said Kokoruda. “I spoke to more than one mother that said their sons were released after being given Narcan and they were never notified when their children were in terrible withdrawal with no help available.”
Kokoruda added: “I understand that people have rights but when extremely ill people cannot help themselves we need to do something.”
To Kruczek, both bills are simple common sense and deserve bipartisan support.
“Substance use disorder is a disease. It’s time we treat it as a disease,” she said. “If I was standing on a ledge ready to jump and got talked off that ledge - I wouldn’t be allowed to walk away with a number to call if I needed further help. I would be brought somewhere and held to keep me safe.”
“Nick was robbed of the adequate care he needed and deserved,” Kruczek said. “I don’t know if Nick would be here today. But I do know he shouldn’t have died that night.”
Kruczek has been one of the leading advocates for new laws to battle the drug overdose epidemic in Connecticut and last year she gained national attention when she wrote a letter to Trump about her son’s death.
She made an appearance in front of millions on the nationally syndicated television show Fox & Friends, stating she was encouraged by the attention political leaders across the country were putting into fighting the drug overdose epidemic.
She received a lot of attention for a response she received, via Twitter, from Trump, which said: “Thank you to Sue Kruczek, who lost her wonderful and talented son Nick to the opioid scourge, for your kind words while on Fox & Friends. We are fighting this terrible epidemic hard — Nick will not have died in vain!”