Dec 26, 2013
08:39 AM
The Connecticut Story

Fentanyl a Factor in Heroin-Related Deaths Across Connecticut

Fentanyl a Factor in Heroin-Related Deaths Across Connecticut

It may look like heroin. It may act sort of like heroin. It may be sold as heroin. And the people selling it — and the people they bought it from — may even think it’s heroin.

But fentanyl is not heroin.

It’s a fully synthetic drug, around since 1960, that is 100 times as potent as morphine, the poppy-derived drug that heroin, around since 1874, is synthesized from.

And it’s killing people in Connecticut at a rate that, while still far lower than heroin, is nevertheless more than double this year what it was last year.

So far this year, Fentanyl has been a contributing factor to the deaths of at least 30 people in Connecticut, according to figures from state police and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner — with the latest two, both last Saturday in East Lyme, prompting state police to issue a “dangerous drug alert.”

That’s up from 12 Fentanyl-related deaths last year, although authorities say it’s too early to say exactly what that means.

Those figures, while they bear watching, still are just a drop in the bucket compared to at least 189 deaths from heroin overdoses in Connecticut so far this year, including at least 45 women.

The Register Citizen of Torrington and the New Haven Register requested statistics on heroin deaths in the wake of a run of suspected heroin-related overdose deaths in Torrington, a relatively small city of 35,800 people that so far this year has seen 10 people die of suspected heroin overdoses within its borders.

The Register requested additional statistics for Fentanyl deaths after it turned up as a contributing factor in a number of the heroin deaths.

The most recent Torrington heroin death occurred last week. Three of Torrington’s suspected heroin deaths occurred during over a two-day period in November.

With regard to Fentanyl, “I think we definitely need to address the problem and that’s what we are doing,” said Lt. Kenneth Cain, a 12-year veteran Connecticut State Trooper who commands the three offices of the state police’s Statewide Narcotics Task Force that cover New Haven, Fairfield and Litchfield counties.

That said, “I don’t think we are in for a Fentanyl epidemic,” he said.

The state police decision to issue a dangerous drug alert for Fentanyl, resulted “because we had two overdoses out in East Lyme...just on Saturday...So we could warn people if there was a bad batch out there,” Cain said.

The two overdoses took place at different times, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, he said.

“We sent detectives to both scenes and they’re working on both cases,” Cain said.

While Fentanyl has been around since the 1960s, “for the most part it’s patches or pills or those lollipops that they give cancer patients,” he said.

But “typically, if the heroin supply is short, they’ll mix it with something that’s fully synthetic,” such as Fentanyl, he said.

See the full story at the New Haven Register online.


Fentanyl a Factor in Heroin-Related Deaths Across Connecticut

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