Alarming Increase in Opioid Overdoses Heartbreaking, Shows Importance of Dedicating Settlement Dollars to Prevention

August 27, 2021

HARTFORD – Following a report released by DataHaven which found that fatal overdoses in the New Haven area are up 40% in a year, Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford), Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore Paul Formica (R-East Lyme), and Republican ranking members of the Public Health Committee Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) and Senator Heather Somers (R-Groton), continue to call for bipartisan efforts to address the opioid crisis and ensure federal opioid settlement dollars are dedicated solely to lifesaving measures. View the report here.


“The numbers released today are jarring and devastating,” the Republican lawmakers said. “Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones, and to all those battling addiction. Opioid abuse has taken the lives of far too many, and the pandemic has created new challenges and barriers to recovery. These numbers are painful, and they should motivate us all to continue our work to combat this crisis, to break the stigma, to provide needed supports, and to save lives.


“Earlier this year we called for safeguards to ensure national opioid settlement dollars pledged to fight the opioid epidemic are not used for other purposes, as has occurred with tobacco settlement funds. We were pleased to see the Attorney General agree with our calls to protect these funds, but also concerned that his analysis of law noted that ‘notwithstanding the explicit and directed language of the settlement agreements, the final decision on the actual appropriations is ultimately up to the legislature and Governor Lamont.’ This makes it very clear that there must be stronger protections in place to safeguard these dollars and ensure they are not misused as we’ve seen in the past.


“We must be innovative in our approach. For example, this year we passed a new law to create a peer navigator pilot program to match survivors with individuals struggling with addiction. We must continue working hand-in-hand with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to remain unrelenting in this ongoing fight. A 40% increase in fatal overdoses is heartbreaking and unacceptable.”