Washington – Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have declared war on heroin, insisting the federal government do more to combat what has become a particularly lethal drug that claims, on the average, one life in the state every day.

The recent death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman of a drug overdose, has turned the attention of the nation — and Connecticut’s Democratic senators — to the dangers of the potent, and impure, form of heroin on the black market today and to the increasing number of users of prescription drugs who “graduate” to heroin.

“This dramatic increase of heroin use and abuse in Connecticut is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Murphy said. “Our state has lost hundreds more people to heroin use in the last year, but we’re not doing enough to change the way we address this crisis.”

The senators made a number of recommendations, including:

  • Increased federal funding for treatment;
  • Increased funding for the Statewide Narcotics Task Force, a coordinated effort between Connecticut State Police, local law enforcement agencies and the Drug Enforcement Administration to handle the rise in “tainted” heroin and trafficking;
  • The use of federal funds to implement and evaluate strategies to help prevent prescription drug abuse;
  • Increased the availability of Naloxene, a drug that helps fight heroin addiction, and changes to law so those who administer the drug cannot be sued for damages if a victim cannot be saved.

Blumenthal said, “there is no room for turf wars” between local and federal law enforcement or health officials.

“This epidemic requires the attention and collaboration of federal, state and local officials. There is a beltway of cheap, highly toxic and highly pure heroin coming into the country and our communities from organized corporate cartels in Colombia and Mexico. We cannot mince words or waste time,” Blumenthal said.

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Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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