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Health officials investigate recent spike in drug overdoses in New London County

There were six fatal overdoses and 26 non-fatal overdoses that happened between Saturday and Monday, the Connecticut Department of Public Health said.

NEW LONDON, Conn. — Connecticut health officials are investigating a recent spike in fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses that were reported in New London County over the past few days.

"We do watch the overdoses numbers daily. I get an email every time an overdose is reported through the state reporting system," said Jennifer Muggeo, Deputy Director of the Ledge Light Health District. "There are some weeks where those come very infrequently, there are other weeks like this week, unfortunately, where they’re quite frequent."

There were six fatal overdoses and 26 non-fatal overdoses that occurred between Saturday and Monday, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) said in a public health advisory on Tuesday.

There were four fatal overdoses in Norwich, one in New London and one in Griswold/Jewett City. The DPH reports four of the suspected fatal drug overdoses may involve illicit opioids, and the two others have indications of cocaine and crack-involved overdoses. An official toxicology report will be available in the next four to six weeks.

"What it tells us is that there is something going on with the supply right now. We don’t suspect that much has changed in terms of patterns of use, that it’s more about a particularly contaminated supply," Muggeo said. 

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Around 22 non-fatal overdoses were reported in Norwich and four in New London, with many of the cases involving residents of Griswold, Lisbon, Stonington, and Waterford.

“Whether there is a spike or not, The drug supply, because it is unregulated, is unstable. And may be contaminated at any point in time," Muggeo said. "And even in those weeks where we only get an email about one overdose in our jurisdiction, our community members should still recognize the steps we're recommending people to take. Don't use alone, test your drugs, go slow, have Naloxone on hand and somebody who can recognize the signs and symptoms of an overdose."

This may seem like an interesting concept, but with this recent spike and with more than 5,293 fentanyl overdose deaths in CT since 2015, Muggeo said these conversations and resources are needed.

"Because the unstable supply is out there all the time," Muggeo said.

Fentanyl has almost replaced heroin on the streets of CT. It can be hard to detect, laced with other drugs and sold under the disguise of another substance, according to members of the DEA. Just two milligrams of the opioid can kill someone. 

For that reason, the Ledge Light Health District offers free Narcan and fentanyl testing strips for the public.

“I really encourage people to recognize that people are using drugs in our community. And talking about it is not going to make them use more drugs." Muggeo said.

If you or someone you know is living with Substance Use Disorder, NLC CARES Navigators in New London are here to help. Call or text the number (860) 333-3494 at any time. It is not an emergency line, but they do check the messages daily. 

As for the investigation into the recent spike in the county, DPH and local health officials are working to gather more details and share that information with the public, as well. 

RELATED: Sha'Carri Richardson, barred from Tokyo Olympics for marijuana, speaks up on Valieva scandal

RELATED: Fighting Fentanyl: An in-depth look at the opioid crisis in Connecticut

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