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Blumenthal Seeks Stronger Fight Against Fatal Opioid Epidemic

Stratford Mayor John Harkins joins U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Stratford Mayor John Harkins joins U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Photo Credit: U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal via Twitter

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, urged the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to allocate robust federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic in Connecticut, which now ranks 11th among the national drug overdose mortality rate.

On average, nearly three Connecticut residents die each day from drug overdoses, resulting in a record-setting 1,000 overdose deaths in 2017. The recently-passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 authorizes $6 billion over two years to address the opioid crisis. Senate appropriators are currently reviewing requests for funding allocation.

“Congress must move without delay to disburse these funds to those on the front lines of the heroin and opioid epidemic,” wrote Blumenthal. “We must also recognize that the federal government’s work is not done, and that we must do more to rid our communities of the corrosive grip of substance use disorder. There is no question that these heartbreaking statistics underscore the heavy toll this epidemic has taken across the state of Connecticut; however, the many powerful stories of resilience and strength that I have witnessed firsthand give me hope that with additional supports and services, at the right time, we can begin to reverse this alarming trend.”

The State of Connecticut currently disburses over $65 million per year on treatment for opioid dependency. Even so, treatment centers, rehabilitation facilities, and prevention programs remain chronically understaffed and underfunded, unable to fulfill their mandates due to the lack of federal funding. In his letter to Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Blumenthal requested a fair allocation of funds to expand the treatment, prevention, and recovery programs that provide critical medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and other residential services to Connecticut communities.

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