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Departments & Services > Health > Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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 whether you live in a city, a suburb or a rural area and that even Fairfield has been tragically impacted as well.

It is important to understand that many opioid addiction and opioid related deaths started with a prescription to deal with pain related to a sports injury, medical procedure 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. In 2016, 40% of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid.

Different Opioids

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

Fentanyl - a synthetic opioid pain reliever. It is many times more powerful than other opioids and is approved fro treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. Illegally made and distributed, fentanyl has been on the rise in several states.

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

US, Connecticut and Fairfield Statistics

US

In the US, opioids (including prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl) killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, more than any year on record.

Connecticut

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

In 2014, there were 623 deaths, in 2015 800 deaths, 2016 971 deaths, and in 2017 there were over 1,000 deaths from opioid overdoses in CT. Deaths have doubled since 2014.

Fairfield

In 2017, Narcan (a medicine that can bring someone back from an opioid overdose) was administered by Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services over 30 times in Fairfield. This means there were over 30 potentially fatal overdoses that were prevented through the use of Narcan.

Since 2012, there have been 23 deaths of Fairfield residents by opioid overdoses; that is an average of over 4 deaths per year. Of those deaths 16 were male, 7 were female with an age range of 21 years - 67 years old.

What is being done?

In an effort to specifically combat the opioid crisis, Fairfield CARES applied for and was awarded an AmeriCorps staff member who will be working in Fairfield until September 2018 on opioid prevention and education. Fairfield CARES, the Police Department, Social Services, and the Health Department are all working with the AmeriCorps member to ensure the success of the education and prevention campaign.

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.

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

If you have an 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 trainings below.

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 or Naloxone is a medication that can help bring someone back from 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.

Fairfield does host Narcan trainings. For information on the next Narcan training, please call Santina Jaronko, Health Educator at 203-256-3150 or email at sjaronko@fairfieldct.org.

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 website.

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

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.