August 31st is International Opioid Awareness Day. A gathering will be held at the state capitol later this morning. Last week, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz hosted a roundtable discussion in Kent about actions by municipal, state and federal agencies to address the opioid addiction crisis. The panel discussion included First Selectman Jean Speck, Senator Blumenthal, Congresswoman Hayes and the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner.
Shatterproof Ambassador Dita Bhargava also participated in the panel discussion on-site.
She talked about her son Alec, a hockey player who suffered from a mild form of bipolar and depression. He began self-medicating with pot, then senior year of high school was found unconscious with an empty bottle of oxycontin. Bhargava says he wen through 7 years of an addition-recovery cycle. He died of an accidental overdose on his 26th birthday in July 2018.
Opioid-related overdose deaths in the state climbed 400 percent from 2012 to 2017, with over 1,000 deaths for each of the past two years. Fentanyl related deaths now account for over 70 percent of overdoses.