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Conn. opioid deaths keep rising even after pandemic eases

June 27, 2021 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Opioid deaths spiked in Connecticut during the pandemic and continue to increase in 2021, fueled by continued disruptions to recovery programs and a deadly, fentanyl-laced drug supply.

The synthetic opioid fentanyl, which is 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, was found in 4 percent of accidental intoxication deaths in the state in 2012 but showed up in the vast majority of fatal overdoses last year, the Hartford Courant reported.

The isolation brought on by the pandemic led to more drug use, more emergency room visits and more overdoses. The state Department of Public Health reported the number of overdose deaths in the first three months of 2021 was higher than the same period in 2019 and 2020.

Some recovery programs stopped offering treatment or support groups, exacerbating the difficulties.

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“Disrupting the recovery community led to more relapse, more use, more overdoses,” Dr. J. Craig Allen, the medical director at Rushford, a Hartford HealthCare center in Meriden, told the newspaper.

Experts and medical professionals say fatal overdoses aren’t likely to decrease because of the prevalence of fentanyl. But they’re hopeful that some of the billions of dollars in federal aid the state has received will be used for mental health and substance abuse treatment.