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Connecticut Law Aims to Decrease Stigma of Addiction, Expand Access to Treatment

Christian Schnettelker
Creative Commons

For lawmakers looking to address the crisis of drug addiction and overdose, limiting access to prescription painkillers and increasing availability of opioid-reversal drugs like naloxone have been two major policy points. A legislative push in Connecticut now aims to expand access to treatments as well. 

Susan Campion, president of the Connecticut Association of Addiction Specialists, said society needs to change the way it thinks about substance abuse. "It is not something to be ashamed of, it is something to be addressed," she said.

She's praising a bill signed into law last month she said will facilitate better interactions between primary care physicians and licensed addiction specialists like her.

"Families are suffering because of the shame and stigma associated with substance abuse," Campion said. "We all know this. And this law now says look, we see this as a disease. And with any disease the best course of action is prevention and intervention."

Campion said the bill outlines a treatment strategy where primary care physicians, who may not have a specialty in treating addiction, can tap into a licensed network of counselors. Those counselors will assess patients and develop treatment plans that will be shared back with doctors.

"It's already happening -- doctors are using our workforce - and now we want to make that sort of a uniform resource for medical providers across the state," Campion said. 

Campion said the bill establishes a new standard of care for treating addiction like a chronic medical condition -- and she's happy it will be officially enshrined in state law later this year.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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