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Opioid Use Disorder: A Growing Epidemic Within An Epidemic

Wheeler Clinc
One of several Remembrance Quilts, part of a statewide initiative launched in 2017 by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to honor loved ones who have died from substance use disorders. Wheeler’s Connecticut Clearinghouse and other organizations across the state have coordinated several community quilting events in which participants create squares in honor of a loved one.

In Connecticut, residents are more likely to die from unintentional drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Last year, more than 1,300 people died of accidental drug overdose – a 14.6% increase from 2019, and an 88.5% increase from 2015. Through January to June this year, 547 lives were lost to overdose, with additional deaths pending investigation.

This hour on Where We Live, we talk to a peer recovery specialist from Wheeler Clinic about her lived experience with childhood trauma, opioid use disorder, and medication assisted therapy. We discuss with experts the need for state funding for nonprofits offering substance use disorder treatment -- beyond the $60 million in additional dollars that will be allocated for adult and children’s mental health addiction services over the biennium -- at a time when patient demand is continuing to climb.

We also explore ways to invest the $300 million in settlements received by the state from Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, and look into how opioid manufacturers and distributors are still pushing physician prescriptions in innovative ways, despite the Sunshine Act.


  • Stephanie Almada - Peer Recovery Support Specialist, Wheeler Clinic
  • Sabrina Trocchi - President and CEO, Wheeler Clinic
  • Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman - Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology at Georgetown University Medical Center, and Director of PharmedOut

Cat Pastor contributed to this show which originally aired August 6, 2021.

Lucy is the Executive Producer and Host of WNPR's popular talk show, Where We Live. She’s been a public radio journalist for more than 20 years covering everything from education to immigration, juvenile justice and child welfare issues to veterans' affairs and the military.
Sujata reports for the WNPR News business desk. Her features range from small business, entrepreneurship, innovation and microfinance to local impact of quantitative easing and changing trendsin global markets. She’s reported from abroad for WNPR and helped develop a segment on jobs and economic recovery, part of the business coverage.