Chipping away at opioid hold on youth

As we have been constantly and agonizingly reminded, the epidemic of opioid abuse and fatal overdose has no stereotypical victim. Its sufferers are of every race, gender, employment status and hometown.

The cruelest distinction may be age. When the addicted person is a teenager or a young adult, more future is at stake. Immaturity multiplies the bad odds, and the state's chronic lack of mental health beds for youth makes those odds insurmountable in many cases. Tragedy can soon follow.

So it was welcome news Monday when the governor and the state's congressional delegation announced $3.1 million in federal funds to support long-term treatment and recovery services for drug abuse victims under 21. New London and Norwich are two of the five cities that will get funding in the first round.

The lack of services for youth with mental health issues has been a crisis for many years in Connecticut, with recent coverage of young people stranded in emergency rooms driving home the point that it still is. The grant will help only 192 young people in the first year, by the state's estimate, but the departments that will administer it — Children and Families and Mental Health and Addiction Services — expect to develop "recovery supports" across the state.

In Norwich, and in New London, where the New London Opioid Action Team has been driving home the point that addiction doesn't just end with the first course of treatment, advocates are about to get one of the solutions they have been calling for. We hope they will be ready to put the funds to work and save some young lives.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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