OCME: Connecticut sees year-over-year decrease in OD deaths

Fewer people died by overdose in 2018 than in the year before, the first time the state saw such a year-over-year decrease since the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner began releasing numbers in 2012.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill said Friday that 1,017 people died in 2018 compared to 1,038 in 2017, a 2 percent decrease.

Because of the decrease in fatal overdose numbers, along with improving data about overdose-related emergency room visits, officials have been cautiously optimistic that overdoses may be leveling off in the state. But the rates for fatal overdoses and ER visits still are higher in Connecticut than in most other states.

Gill said the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl was detected in 760 deaths last year, compared to 677 the year before. Fentanyl has increased in prevalence each year since 2012, when only 14 deaths involving the drug were reported.

Heroin, meanwhile, was found in 391 deaths compared to 474 the year before, marking the second straight year-over-year decrease.

Gill also released town-by-town data, which showed at least 17 fatal overdoses happened in New London, 16 in Groton and 14 in Norwich.

Officials couldn’t determine where 39 of the state’s fatal overdoses occurred.

The numbers come as the Public Health Committee plans to dedicate yet another day to discussing bills that address the crisis.

State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said earlier this week that legislators are tackling the issue from multiple angles.

“We’re trying to look at (the crisis) in the most holistic way we can,” said Somers, a ranking member and former co-chair of the committee. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the legislature that has not been touched by this crisis.”

l.boyle@theday.com

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