Combatting Connecticut’s heroin and opiod epidemic (Easton Courier)

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded recent efforts in the state to combat the growing heroin and opioid epidemic.

Those efforts include Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposal to increase access to naloxone and establish the new public-private “Connecticut Family Stability Pay for Success Project” to expand in-home treatment programs for families struggling with substance abuse.

Murphy also reiterated his call on Congress to pass his bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act, which will expand federal resources and improve coordination for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

Deaths caused by drug overdoses have skyrocketed in Connecticut. In 2015, more than 720 Connecticut residents died from drug overdoses, including 415 heroin-related deaths.

“Big cities and small towns across Connecticut have come to know all too well the devastation of addiction,” Murphy said. “The numbers are stark, but it’s the stories behind those statistics — the loved ones lost, the families torn apart, and the communities struggling to heal — that make it clear we just can’t wait any longer.

“Today, state and federal leaders announced important steps to combat this epidemic. I want to applaud Governor Malloy, Commissioner Katz, and White House National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli in particular for their work on this. I’ll be working hard in Congress, continuing to call on Democrats and Republicans to pass my comprehensive Mental Health Reform Act to expand resources, improve treatment options, and enhance coordination among government agencies and health care providers so we can fight back against this epidemic.”

Murphy’s Mental Health Reform Act will make critical reforms to address a lack of resources, enhance coordination, and develop meaningful solutions to improve outcomes for families dealing with mental illness and substance abuse, including establishing an assistant secretary for mental health and substance use disorders within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Murphy introduced the bill with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) after months of collaborating with Connecticut’s mental health professionals, policy experts, consumers, and families.