CAS Partners with U.S. Attorney’s Office to Combat Opioid Epidemic


CAS is pleased to partner with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to enlist your help in fighting the devastating opioid epidemic that is plaguing Connecticut. Projections for 2016 by the State Medical Examiner indicate that close to 900 people died of accidental drug overdoses in Connecticut. That is almost three times the number of people who died in car accidents last year. Even more devastating is the fact that a majority of these deaths are of young people ages 18 to 25, many of whom developed an addiction to opioids after misusing prescription pills while in their teens or early adolescence. Sports injuries, dental pain and other illnesses are common reasons for the original prescription. Recognizing that law enforcement is only one facet of the solution, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is fighting this epidemic on several fronts, including criminal prosecution and outreach to schools for prevention. The office has formed a Heroin Education Action Team (HEAT), which includes parents of local overdose victims, to further assist in this effort.

Your anticipated role in the solution is simple. As soon as possible, and no later than the end of the school year, please ensure that every student in your high school sees at least one of the following two films: 1) a 15-minute film called The Opioid Crisis Hits Home: Stories from Connecticut that can also be used to educate educators, parents and the general public about the opioid epidemic; and 2) the FBI/DEA documentary film Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict, which is 45-minutes long and accompanied by an educator’s discussion guide geared specifically to teens and adolescents. Since last September, a number of Assistant U.S. Attorneys have partnered with parents of overdose victims, young recovering addicts, FBI, DEA, and local law enforcement to facilitate Chasing the Dragon presentations at high schools in Milford, New Haven, Danbury, Plymouth, Shelton, East Hartford and New Fairfield. Additional presentations are scheduled for the coming weeks, but there are still thousands of high school students that we have not yet reached. It is imperative that we do so immediately. There is no cost for any of these films or the live presentations. They are provided as a public service for the sole purpose of saving lives.

To schedule an opioid awareness presentation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office at your school, please contact either Assistant U.S. Attorney Vanessa Avery or Robert Spector at 203-821-3700 (main number), vanessadotaveryatusdojdotgov, robertdotspectoratusdojdotgov. A typical presentation lasts for 1 to 1.5 hours, which includes a brief introduction, showing Chasing the Dragon, and a panel presentation with Q&A. Shorter presentations can also be scheduled, and the 15-minute local film is a good option for any school unable to dedicate the necessary time for a viewing of Chasing the Dragon. Thank you for joining CAS and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in this effort.