Combating the Opioid Crisis

May 2, 2024

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Hi all,

This week, I was proud to see the Connecticut House of Representatives unanimously pass

HB 5291: An Act Concerning the Department of Public Health's Recommendations Regarding Improved Opioid Monitoring, and to speak in support of the bill.
This bill requires hospitals that treat a patient for a nonfatal overdose of an opioid drug to administer a toxicology screening of such patient with the patient’s consent and if medically appropriate.  

The purpose of this legislation is to compile all comprehensive toxicology information on nonfatal overdoses in the state to better understand how non-fatal overdoses affect various populations in our state, which will inform future prevention strategies.

I was so proud to be joined by Margot Ratchman, a Daniel Hand High School senior who has represented our community in both Girls State and Girls Nation.
The opioid crisis in Connecticut remains critical, as evidenced by the staggering numbers: In 2020 alone, the state recorded 1,378 opioid overdose deaths, marking a 14.6% increase from the previous year. Notably, fentanyl or fentanyl analog-involved fatalities comprise an average of 85% of these deaths across 2020, 2021, and 2022. In addition, there are approximately 6,600 nonfatal overdose visits to emergency departments across Connecticut annually.
There is an urgent need for comprehensive reform that prioritizes harm reduction, destigmatization, and evidence-based solutions, and HB 5291 does just that.
I also wanted to highlight some of the other bills I've supported in the last couple of session to address the ongoing opioid pandemic:
In addition, you may remember that I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of 25 legislators from across the nation to participate in the National Conference of State Legislatures's Opioid Policy Fellows Program. This yearly program brings together legislators who are leaders on opioid addiction and overdose issues.

Together, my colleagues and I:

  • Built knowledge about new research, policy and innovations;
  • Exchanged ideas and solutions with each other related to opioid misuse and overdose and related issues; 
  • Connected with leading researchers and policy experts; and
  • Identified practical information to use in our states and develop action steps
As the opioid crisis continues in our state, I will continue to have a proactive and people-first approach to address the root causes of substance abuse and harm mitigation strategies. By fostering collaboration among lawmakers, healthcare professionals, and community stakeholders, we can build policy emphasizing prevention, education, and holistic support systems for individuals struggling with addiction.

John-Michael Parker
State Representative

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