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Conn. Lawmakers Look To Combat 'Exploding' Heroin Crisis

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) - Connecticut's U.S. senators have outlined steps to combat the growing number of fatalities from heroin in the state and nationwide.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, heroin use in Connecticut has jumped in the last year.

Sen. Chris Murphy said the number of deaths among heroin users has doubled.

Conn. Lawmakers Look To Combat 'Exploding' Heroin Crisis

"270 people died last year all across Connecticut from just heroin overdoses, nevermind all the people that died from other drug overdoses," Murphy told Schneidau.

Murphy said many of those deaths are due to the fact that drug pushers are adding the highly potent drug fentanyl to the heroin.

The amounts are being mixed very often by kids, said Murphy, who have no idea what they're doing.

"The reason that we're talking about this particular additive is because it heightens the experience, I've been told, by the heroin user. But if you put the wrong amount of fentanyl in the heroin, it could kill people," Murphy said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic form of morphine about many times stronger than natural morphine. The powerful narcotic is often used for cancer patients.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal called the increase in heroin deaths "a burgeoning, exploding crisis that requires immediate, substantial attention - from law enforcement, from medical and mental health professionals, and from our communities.

"There is no room for turf wars - this epidemic requires the attention and collaboration of federal, state and local officials. There is a beltway of cheap, highly toxic and highly pure heroin coming into the country and our communities from organized corporate cartels in Colombia and Mexico. We cannot mince words or waste time. These cartels are making billions of dollars at the expense of our lives and health and we need to crack down hard."

The senators outlined a number of steps they'd like to see implemented on the state and federal levels:

  • Increased funding for treatment
  • Increased support for law enforcement crackdown on trafficking
  • Increased prevention focused on heroin and prescription drug abuse 
  • Increased availability of heroin overdose prevention drug
  • Promote community collaboration

The lawmakers on Monday met with law enforcement officials, health care advocates and others to discuss the growing heroin epidemic.

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