Drug overdoses becoming more challenging

NEW HAVEN --  A local doctor said the four synthetic drug overdoses in a span of an hour Thursday afternoon, are part of a trend that is frustrating medical professionals.

Of the roughly 500 patients Yale-New Haven Hospital's emergency department treats each day, approximately three to five of those are as a result of drug overdoses.

"The good news is, I think, there’s a lot more energy and a lot more resources now being put toward the problem and we’re starting to see more and more ways to combat the problem," said Dr. Andrew Ulrich, Director of Emergency Department Operations for Yale-New Haven Hospital.

One of the challenges hospitals face in treating these overdose patients is that many of these overdoses are as a result of synthetic drug use.

"If it’s not a pure opiate, there really isn’t something (antidote) that we can use right away to reverse it," said Ulrich.

Nalaxone, which is an opioid antidote, doesn't counteract synthetic drugs, which results in more overdose related deaths.

"It is certainly much more significant and severe than it has been in the past," said Ulrich.

And, he said, patients often tell doctors they were surprised that they overdosed.

"What happens is they take something, which is either far more potent than they are used to or it’s mixed with something else they just weren’t aware of," said Ulrich.

At least two of the rapid fire overdoses in New Haven Thursday were as a result of K2 or spice, a synthetic marijuana.