Public officials in New Haven, CT reported, on Thursday, they are experiencing what can only be described as a public health emergency. This is on the heels of two deaths and more than a dozen overdoses due to tainted street drugs.
New Haven officials said that they have declared an immediate warning of the prevalence of tainted—and life-threatening—heroin on the streets throughout the city. So far, officials have reported at least 15 overdoses throughout the city, as of Thursday afternoon; they claim there may be 22 total overdoses.
They also report, unfortunately, at least two confirmed fatalities.
“It is evident there is a batch or batches of tainted or poisoned heroin and/ or cocaine that recently hit New Haven’s streets,” explains New Haven police spokesperson Officer David Hartman. “The New Haven Police Department is rigorously investigating the source of the illegal drug.”
Furthermore, Hartman continues, “In that we have so many cases in one day, we do believe the source is local. That doesn’t mean it was cooked here, it could’ve come from somewhere else.”
Either way, it appears that Connecticut has a bit of an epidemic on their hands. In 2014 alone, the state reported 568 drug overdoses, only rising to 729 in 2015; and they are currently on track to surpass 800 by the end of this year, according to reports from the Office of the State Medical Examiner.
The vast majority of these deaths have and will involve opioid drugs.
As could be expected from recent news, fire officials expect that the New Haven issue is the result of an influx of fentanyl. This synthetic drug is 80 times stronger than morphine and has been increasingly associated with overdose and death over the past two years, particularly in the state of Connecticut. At least 300 people are expected to die from a fentanyl-related overdose by the end of 2016. In 2012, only 18 people died from fentanyl use (whether intentional or accidental).
One issue with fentanyl, of course, is that it is a legally-prescribed pain killer but many street drug makers use it cut heroin (and other drugs) to increase potency. Buyers won’t know, of course, if their drug is cut and might take too much because they don’t know how strong it really is.