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Drug problems must be addressed

According to the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, deaths due to accidental drug intoxication in Connecticut have sharply increased over the past five years.

In 2012, drug deaths numbered 357; in 2015, the number was 729. Last year, 917 people died, including an 18-year-old from Winsted.

The deaths include those caused by heroin, morphine and/or codeine.

As you can see from the list of Winsted drug-related deaths on page A6 of this issue, drug addiction does not discriminate due to age, sex or color.

While one might try to argue that the death rate for drug addiction is low in Winsted compared to big cities across the United States, the truth is that the death of one person due to drugs, no matter how young or old they are, is already a way too high.

The Winchester Police Department has stepped up to the plate by training its officers to use Narcan for accidental overdoses and for installing a drug drop-off box at its headquarters.

However, the town itself has not stepped up to the plate in funding a dedicated narcotics officer for the department.

Since last year, Chief William Fitzgerald has pleaded with the town to hire a narcotics officer in order to provide follow-up to narcotics investigations because, currently, patrol officers are conducting these investigations.

We will continue to keep asking the town to strongly consider and grant Fitzgerald’s request.

As for people who are addicted, we ask readers not to shame or scorn them, but instead to step up to the plate to give them help.

The state’s hotline for drug addiction is 1-800-563-4086. Online, resources can be found on the state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services website at www.ct.gov/dmhas.