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Conn. Lawmakers Look To Combat Growing Heroin Crisis

A heroin needle (credit: ClipArt.com)

A heroin needle (credit: ClipArt.com)

CBS New York (con't)

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WATERBURY, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A forum was held to discuss the heroin problem in central and northwestern Connecticut, including ways the federal government can help efforts to reduce drug trafficking.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty hosted the “Community Conversation on Heroin,” at Waterbury City Hall.

In 2013, 257 Connecticut residents died from heroin overdoses. Esty’s office said Torrington and Waterbury are two cities in the 5th Congressional District that are struggling with heroin use.

Sen. Chris Murphy, who did not attend Thursday’s event, said the entire state has seen a spike in heroin fatalities.

“Just in the last year alone, we’ve seen a doubling of overdose deaths in Hartford, Conn. We’re seeing a similar increase in other states,” Murphy told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

Many of the deaths are due to fantanyl-laced heroin. The additive is a powerful synthetic painkiller usually prescribed to cancer patients.

The senator said the overdoses are occurring in too many towns and cities.

Murphy visited a health center in New Haven where addicts can go for help. He said he found it’s too easy for people to get on the path to heroin addiction.

“There is a clear path from the abuse of prescription drugs directly into the abuse of heroin and if we really want to tackle the heroin epidemic, then we’ve got to stop the flow of illegal painkillers,”

Murphy said there needs to be more education of emergency room workers and doctors who prescribe drugs for pain.

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