More people in our state die from drug overdoses than car accidents, homicides and suicides combined.  Last year, Connecticut saw 1,038 drug overdose deaths, and drug overdose deaths have increased over the last five years. In 2012, Connecticut ranked 50th in the nation for opioid deaths, but by 2015 ranked number 12.

New London has made addressing the opioid crisis a top priority. At a visit to New London’s Homeless Hospitality Center, I met with first responders, treatment providers, non-profit leaders involved with certifying and operating sober homes, “recovery navigators,” and people themselves in recovery from opioid use disorder. Everybody in that room was part of a group effort to help those suffering from opioid use disorder. This interdisciplinary “Opioid Action Team” brings together the diverse areas of expertise needed to combat the opioid crisis in a collaborative way.

To address the opioid crisis that has touched all of our communities, we not only need a coordinated and collaborative approach involving families, first responders and health professionals, but we also need to increase funding for and expand access to treatment facilities.

It’s crucial that the state adopt a comprehensive approach like New London’s that focuses on prevention, treatment and harm reduction. New London’s Opioid Action Team has developed one of the only action plans in Connecticut, working to increase best practice treatment services, reduce stigma and implement support services for families and communities.

As governor, I would recognize that addiction is an illness and not a moral failing, and the only way to address the opioid epidemic is to treat it as what it is: a true public health emergency.

In addition to studying and expanding on New London’s success, I will take the following steps to combat the opioid epidemic:

  • Increasing access to and distribution of naloxone in our communities, particularly by requiring that insurers cover naloxone without out-of-pocket costs.

  • Expanding patient access to and insurance coverage for facilities that provide evidence-based addiction treatment like medication-assisted therapy (MAT). Further, we must significantly increase the number of practitioners across Connecticut who can prescribe buprenorphine.

  • Increasing funding for proven treatment and recovery facilities, like certified sober homes.

  • Working to improve insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

  • Treating inmates for addiction to prevent unnecessary deaths and further reduce our crime rates upon reentry, as has proven successful in Rhode Island.

  • Focusing on the homelessness, incarceration and poverty that prevent people from achieving a lifelong recovery.

  • Improving continuity of care, particularly when individuals are released from jails or when individuals are treated at emergency rooms and are referred to treatment.

  • Implementing diversion programs to make sure that those suffering from an addiction disorder receive treatment, not prison.

  • Working closely with the medical community to reduce the prescribing of opioids and to promote non-opioid alternatives for pain treatment.

  • Working with our attorney general to crack down on pharmaceutical manufacturers’ and distributors’ misleading opioid marketing practices. I strongly support lawsuits brought by many of Connecticut’s municipalities, including Wallingford, New Haven, Waterbury, Bridgeport, New London and New Britain, to hold pharmaceutical manufacturers liable for causing this crisis.

Connecticut Values

Ned is running for Governor because we need to change Connecticut’s direction before we fall too far behind. 

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