New State Law Aims to Fight Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses

A new Connecticut law effective Friday prohibits doctors from prescribing opioid pain medications for more than a week.

"When someone comes in for wisdom teeth to be pulled out, or they have an acute shoulder injury, you know usually three to five days is all they need," said Dr. Katherine Grieco, the Medical Director at Cornell Scott Hill Health Corporation’s South Central Rehabilitation Center in New Haven.

The new law is a policy step the state has taken to address an epidemic of opioid overdoses. Doctors said patients who become addicted to painkillers often turn to more potent drugs like heroin.

"After a while you know the dealers can said you know I don’t have any oxys or I can sell you heroin, which is much cheaper," said Ben Metcalf, the Program Director at the South Central Rehabilitation Center.

The center provides treatment for addicts, some who have reached rock bottom.

“The behavior piece and medication piece, you put them together, and that will likely be the recipe of success,” Grieco said.

Police, community workers and federal lawmakers held a roundtable Friday morning in New haven to discuss searching for solutions to this drug crisis.

Both of Connecticut’s U.S. Senators said the federal government needs to allocate more funding.

"You can’t arrest your way out of this crisis,” Sen. Chris Murphy said. "You can certainly come after the dealers that are handing out deadly fentanyl, but ultimately you need to stop people from getting on to the drug in the first place."

The meeting took place one week after New Haven officials declared a public health emergency.

Police said a batch of pure fentanyl circulated in the city caused 17 overdoses, three of them deadly, on the same day.

"I think it highlighted the urgency with which we have to address this issue," Grieco said of the public health emergency.

Authorities earlier this week arrested three men in connection with the rash of opioid overdoses in New Haven.

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