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Departments & Services > Health > Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Epidemic

The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. This page has been created to bring awareness to this issue and to provide preventative steps to reduce the risk of you or a loved one from becoming addicted to opioids. In addition, this page was created to demonstrate that is an issue is prevalent no matter where you live, whether that is in a city, rural area, or suburb like the Town of Fairfield. 

It is important to understand that many opioid addictions and opioid related deaths started with a prescription to deal with pain related to a sports injury, medical procedures or a chronic issue. Those taking the prescription then become addicted. Once they no longer have access to prescribed medications, or can't afford the legally acquired prescription medications, they turn to more affordable and readily available illegal options such as heroin, fentanyl, or other similar opioids. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2 out of every 3 drug overdoses involve opioids. 

Different Opioids

Prescription opioids - prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain, but can also have serious risks and side effects. Common types of prescription opioids include: oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and methadone.

Fentanyl - a synthetic opioid pain reliever. It 50-100 times more potent than opioids like morphine and is approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. Illegally made and distributed, fentanyl has been on the rise in several states including Connecticut. 

Heroin - an illegal opioid. Heroin usage has increased across the US among men and women, most age groups, and people of all income levels.

US, Connecticut and Fairfield Statistics

United States

In the US, overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2019, and nearly 73% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids. 

From 1999 to 2019, nearly 247,000 people died in the US from overdoses involving prescription opioids. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids more than quadrupled from 1999 to 2019. Additionally, overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids (like fentanyl), have increased over six times since 1999. 

Connecticut

There are nearly 3 accidental drug deaths every day in CT.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health interactive dashboard, there were 1,378 opioid overdose deaths in Connecticut in 2020. This is an increase of 14.6% from the previous year, 2019 with 1,202 overdose deaths. 

In all opioid overdose cases in the State, Naloxone was administered in 80.5% of cases overall. 

From 2015 - 2021, there have been 6,752 drug overdose deaths in CT so far. 

Fairfield

According to data.ct.gov, there have been 38 deaths of Fairfield residents from 2015-2021. 28 of these deaths occurred at home and 60.5% of them involved Fentanyl. The average age is 38.5 years. This data base can be viewed here

What is Being Done?

Additionally, Fairfield CARES was recently awarded an opioid mini grant to aid in the prevention and education of opioid drug use. For more information on Fairfield CARES, please visit their website.

The Senate has recently passed House Bill 7159 that addresses contributing factors to opioid addiction and ways to prevent opioid addiction and overdose. Please visit the Connecticut General Assembly's website for more information. 

The Biden-Harris administration has developed drug policy priorities to reduce the number of overdoses and save lives. The Statement can be found here.

What can you do to prevent opioid addition or opioid related death?

If you have any opioid medications at home - Count it, Lock it, Drop it. Count the numbers of tablets/pills you have, make sure they are in a locked cabinet, and drop off or discard any unused opioid medications (see directions below).

If you have someone in your household that has an opioid addiction problem, consider getting trained on how to administer Narcan and having it available in your home. Learn more about Narcan and possible training below. In addition, visit the States new free app, NORA, by typing in norasaves.com through the web browser on your smartphone or device. This app educates residents on how to administer Narcan during an overdose.The NORA app also gives GPS location to users in order to locate the closest site where they will be able to obtain the medication Narcan. 

Before accepting a prescription for opioids for yourself or your children, talk to your doctor or dentist about alternatives to opioids for dealing with pain. This is especially important if you or anyone who regularly enters your home has had any addiction problems.

Get involved in state or local groups or organizations working to prevent opioid addictions such as Fairfield CARES.

What is Narcan?

Narcan also known as Naloxone, is a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. 

In Fairfield, all first responders including Police, Fire, and EMT have been trained in Narcan and carry it. Additionally, all school nurses in the district have also been trained and have it available to them.  Residents can purchase Narcan at local pharmacies.  Click here for a map showing pharmacies where it is available (scroll or zoom in on map to see Fairfield pharmacies).

How to Properly Dispose of Opioid Medications

One of the most important ways to help prevent the misuse of opioids is to properly dispose of any unused prescription opioid medication.

The Fairfield Police Department has a medication drop box. Individuals can simply drop prescription and over-the-counter medications no questions asked and no information given to Police. This drop box can be found:

At Police headquarters at 100 Reef Road, Fairfield, in the front lobby

Please bring medications in original containers with the label removed. For more information on medications that are accepted or not accepted at the drug drop box please visit this websiteHere is a list of all locked drug boxes in the Greater Bridgeport area.

For additional information as to how to dispose of medication, please view the Fairfield Health Department's video demonstrating how to dispose of medications properly.

Resources for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services

Addiction Services Bed Availability - for Detox Programs, Residential Treatment, and Recovery Houses

Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers in CT

Greater Bridgeport Area Guide for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resources

Greenwich to Westport Guide for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resources

Get Smart About Drugs

Easy to Read Drug Facts

For additional information on mental health and substance abuse please visit this webpage.

Documentaries

In an effort to combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse, the FBI and DEA have released "Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict," a documentary aimed at educating students and young adults about the dangers of addiction.