Community groups, police hope to curb sudden rise in heroin overdoses in New London area

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NEW LONDON -- Multiple heroin overdoses in New London were reported over the weekend, just days after a person died last week from overdosing and there were several more close calls.

The overdoses are prompting state officials to warn users and future users of the danger of the drug and fight the crisis. Thankfully, they believe there are some good leads.

The city dealt with nine overdoses last week and there were five more this weekend.

“The heroin you're seeing on the streets now is more potent than the stuff was back in 30 or 40 years ago,” said Deputy Chief Peter Reichard of the New London Police Department.

During this surge police are even telling addicts who want help they’ll take them to a hospital or rehab and there won’t be an arrest.

“As they start to come down from the high, they think that they're coming down from the heroin, not realizing that the fentanyl is still in their system,” said Greg Plakias, a recovering addict, who works for Advanced Recovery Systems. “They'll put another bag or bags of heroin in their system and that leads to trouble.”

For more stories about the rise in heroin deaths, go here.

Chief Louis Fusaro, Jr. of Groton said, “For them to get to the point where they are seeking assistance from the police department, they've really hit rock bottom and really need the help. And, we are happy to be a part of solving that problem for them.”

Advocates to fight the epidemic are speaking up and the group Community Speaks Out is just one of the vehicles hoping that awareness and explaining the dangers of heroin will stop the uptick in overdoses. It is planning a candle light vigil in Parade Park for the skyrocketing number of overdoses in New London at some point in the near future.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal is on top of this too. The senator met with doctors, families affected by overdose and those recovering in New Britain on Monday to discuss ways to fight the epidemic.

In 2012, there were 195 overdoses in Connecticut reported to be related to heroin, codeine or morphine. That number in just three years climbed to 415 in 2015. Heroin use is most popular in the 18-to-25 demographic, and the rise in deaths and addiction are connected to the availability of illegal drugs and the lack of resources to address the problem. Advocacy groups and lawmakers are hoping to change that.