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Connecticut, nearing its Narcan distribution goal, plans to refocus on high-risk communities

Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
Narcan nasal spray is distributed upon request at the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition mobile RV site in Hartford on Aug. 11, 2020.

Connecticut is close to meeting its goal for distributing naloxone, the generic name for Narcan, an emergency drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The state’s goal is to distribute 45,750 Narcan kits throughout Connecticut. Meeting that goal would reduce fatalities in observed opioid overdoses by 80%, according to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

State officials expect to distribute about 29,000 of those kits this year alone.

“This year, 2022, the requests for naloxone have skyrocketed,” said Luiza Barnat, director of opioid services at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Barnat spoke Tuesday at the state's Alcohol and Drug Policy Council meeting.

Connecticut is on track to meet its distribution goal by next year, Barnat said, and the next step is to ensure that those kits are going to the right places.

“Although we have the numbers for the state, we might not be distributing it well in the towns where it’s needed," she said.

The cities with the most opioid overdoses are New Haven, Waterbury, Hartford, Bridgeport and New Britain, she said.

Some institutions that should have kits on hand may be reluctant to ask for them.

Sandy Valentine, who works at UConn’s student health center, said there’s still a stigma at schools and universities.

“I think there’s a public relations component to it -- that if we say we distribute it, we have a problem on our campuses,” Valentine said. “But I think there’s still a lot of discomfort that the university could be held accountable if Narcan wasn’t in the right place at the right time.”

The Alcohol and Drug Policy Council plans to start targeting distribution to specific high-risk cities in November.