June 6, 2017

Larson Lauds Final Passage of Comprehensive Opioid Legislation

Preventing Opioid Abuse

Senator Tim Larson voted in support of House Bill 7052, legislation that is designed to help prevent and reduce opioid abuse in Connecticut.
“We have seen and heard so many horror stories about people of all ages continuing to fall victim to substance abuse, and I am proud that we are finally recognizing this epidemic for what it is – a public health crisis. ”

Posted by CT Senate Democrats on Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The State Senate Tuesday gave final legislative approval to a comprehensive bill addressing the opioid and heroin epidemic in Connecticut.

House Bill 7052, An Act Preventing Prescription Opioid Diversion And Abuse, passed the Senate in a bipartisan, unanimous vote. It earlier passed the State House of Representatives in a vote of 146 to zero and goes next to the desk of Governor Dannel P. Malloy for his signature.

“We have seen and heard so many horror stories about people of all ages continuing to fall victim to substance abuse, and I am proud that we are finally recognizing this epidemic for what it is—a public health crisis. I think we are all beginning to understand that you can’t solve a substance abuse problem by arresting a person, and sending a sick person to jail doesn’t help them get well,” said Senator Tim Larson (D-East Hartford). “That’s why I am proud that I’ve been able to make good on my promise to move toward partnering with law enforcement so that those seeking help for their addiction can go to the police without fear of being arrested.”

In Manchester, the local police department has been on the forefront of law-assisted drug intervention. The department launched the HOPE Initiative in 2016. Under the program, users who encounter law enforcement are not arrested, and are instead given assistance in accessing medical treatment, social services and pathways to treatment. Addicted persons can approach law enforcement seeking assistance, without fear of being arrested. It’s a model based on a successful program that began in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

“It’s worked in Gloucester, where hundreds have been helped through the police department’s Angel Program, and I commend the Manchester police for taking the initiative to start its own program here in Connecticut. It is critically important that we become one of the dozens of states to implement similar programs throughout the state to help give people back their lives,” said Sen. Larson.

Sen. Larson is the Democratic Senate Chairman of the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee, and the author of the portion of the bill that establishes a task force to study substance abuse treatment referral programs through municipal police departments.

From January 1, 2015 through August 2, 2016, Connecticut recorded 800 deaths due to overdose. Building upon legislation passed in 2016 and 2015, this bill:

  • Instructs the Alcohol and Drug Policy Council to convene a working group to study substance abuse treatment referral programs that have been established by municipal police departments to refer persons with an opioid use disorder or who are seeking recovery from drug addiction to substance abuse treatment facilities;
  • Reduces the maximum opioid drug prescription for minors from 7 days to 5 days and maintains current law that allows a prescribing practitioner to exceed the limit for chronic pain, palliative care or acute pain if necessary as long as it is documented in the medical record
  • Requires individual and group health insurers to cover medically necessary detox treatment, as defined by American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) so that those looking for help cannot be turned away due to insurance issues;
  • Increases data sharing between state agencies regarding opioid abuse or opioid overdose deaths;
  • Increases security of controlled substances prescriptions by requiring scheduled drugs be electronically prescribed;
  • Allows patients to file a voluntary non-opioid form in their medical records indicating that they do not want to be prescribed or administered opioid drugs.