Connecticut agencies picked to help stop prescription drug abuse

Connecticut has been selected to participate in a national effort to decrease prescription drug abuse.

The state’s department of public health announced today that the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials invited Connecticut to take part in the program. According to a release from DPH, prescription drug abuse is a huge problem nationwide and in Connecticut  which is one of only 16 states where death from overdose is more common than death from a motor vehicle accident. Overdose is also the leading cause of accidental death among adults.

Nationwide, drug overdose death rates have more than tripled since 1990 and have never
been higher. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these
deaths were caused by prescription drugs.
“We are pleased to partner with ASTHO to help advance efforts to address this public health
epidemic,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen in the release. “Overdose deaths from prescription
painkillers have skyrocketed in recent years. Over the last decade, Connecticut has also seen a
startling rise in the number of newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome as a result of
exposure to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother’s womb.”

ASTHO, the national nonprofit organization representing public health agencies in the United
States, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia, supports state health officials and their
leadership teams in a variety of ways. This initiative serves as a valuable opportunity for states to
collaborate with other states facing similar challenges to develop intermediate and long-term
change strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce the human and economic costs
associated with prescription drug abuse.

In addition to DPH, representing Connecticut on this initiative is the Department of Consumer
Protection, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Office of the Attorney
General and a community physician with expertise in this area.

Connecticut’s team will work with four other state teams, together with expert faculty and other
state partners, to facilitate communication and support states in identifying concrete action steps
and evaluation approaches related to the prescription drug overdose epidemic. Connecticut’s
team will meet with ASTHO officials and the other state teams at a meeting in late June in
Washington D.C. All travel and hotel accommodations will be paid for by ASTHO.

Amanda Cuda