Connecticut will receive $315,000 in federal funds to better track opioid overdoses and share data in a multistate effort to combat what has become a national epidemic.
Connecticut was one of 20 states and the District of Columbia to receive a combined $7.5 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s Enhanced State Surveillance of Opioid-Involved Morbidity and Mortality program.
The program has distributed nearly $20 million to 32 states and the District of Columbia since the fall as part of a sweeping package aimed at assembling a portrait of the opioid epidemic.
Some of the funds will go to the chief medical examiner’s office, which keeps detailed records of overdose deaths, said chief medical examiner Dr. James Gill. Gill’s office will begin submitting data to the National Violent Death Reporting System next year, a CDC database that tracks homicides, suicides and — beginning next year — fatal drug overdoses. He plans to use the new funds to hire an extra statistician.
Currently, Gill’s office waits until the end of the year to release data on drug overdoses. But the CDC database will be updated monthly, Gill said, allowing health officials and policymakers to keep abreast of the data.
It’s good that the CDC is increasing it’s surveillance and real-time reporting to monthly from annually in 20 states. That’s the first step of tracking this epidemic. Congress needs to pass a health care bill that will include funding for appropriate treatment of addiction. Removing the restrictions on buprenorphine prescribing will also do a lot to help those in need.