Opioids and Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention

BackgroundCurrent Education Opportunities | Overdose Data
Change the Script  | Common Risk Factors | Signs of an Overdose  | Resources

Background and Overview:

The misuse of prescription medication and opioid-based drugs has increased significantly over the years to become a public health concern in Connecticut. This misuse or abuse includes taking these medications in higher doses than prescribed, for a purpose other than that for which it was prescribed, or taking a medication that was prescribed for another person or obtained off the streets. Opioid overdose is often characterized by a decrease in breathing rate which if not quickly addressed leads to death.

Current Educational Opportunities

The CT  DPH, Quinnipiac Valley Health District, New Haven Health Department, DMHAS, and East Shore District Health Department are hosting a training entitled: Medication Assisted Treatment Buprenorphine Waiver Training. This training will provide a comprehensive overview of Buprenorphine prescribing and its safe and effective use in an office-based setting. This 2 part training consists of a 4-hour live session that will be held at the Quinnipiac School of Medicine in North Haven, CT on March 19, 2019, and a 4 hour online self-study.


The PCSS-MAT Half and Half Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) waiver training course provides an overview of the FDA-approved medications—buprenorphine, naltrexone, and methadone—prescribed for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA 2000), physicians are required to complete an eight-hour training to qualify for a waiver to prescribe and dispense buprenorphine. Completion of a 4-hour live session followed by a 4-hour online self-study will satisfy your licensure requirements to begin prescribing Buprenorphine for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder.


The target audience includes physicians, advance practice nurses, physician assistants, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and allied healthcare professionals.

CMEs and CNEs will be available. Preregistration is required.

Register through this site: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc1WoAHh8RMMUBR0LdSLOl2BUisPecE1XQ1onuNA-SKMUovSw/viewform


For additional information please visit www.buprenorphine.samhsa.gov


Opioid Overdose Data

In Connecticut, residents are more likely to die from unintentional drug overdose than a motor vehicle accident. The majority of these deaths are linked to overdose of prescription opioid painkillers and illicit opioids. According to the CDC, the 2016 Connecticut age-adjusted rate for drug induced mortality is 25.1 per 100,000 population compared to the 2016 national rate of 17.1.


The DPH uses syndromic surveillance system data from the EpiCenter system to provide near real-time estimates of emergency department (ED) utilization for suspected drug overdoses in order to quickly detect and respond to changes in patterns of both fatal and nonfatal opioid overdoses. Please see the following links for preliminary data maps on ED utilization for suspected overdoses due to all drugs (including all opioids, stimulants, benzodiazepines), all opioids (including prescription painkillers and fentanyl/analogues), and heroin overdoses: 

Enhanced State Surveillance of Opioid-Involved Morbidity and Mortality

This is a CDC grant-funded program that aims to improve the capacity and ability to collect, analyze, and report, in a more timely manner, the number and rate of opioid-related emergency department visits and opioid overdose deaths. Funding from this grant also supports increasing the amount of complex opioid and drug toxicology testing being ordered by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for suspected opioid-involved deaths.

Change the Script

'Change the Script' is a statewide public awareness campaign to help communities address the prescription drug and opioid misuse crisis. In collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), and Department of Children and Families (DCF) , DPH has launched an educational campaign for state residents that helps to increase awareness of the dangers of opioid and prescription drug misuse while focusing on decreasing the stigma of addiction and promoting life saving measures such as naloxone and treatment. The campaign materials available for use include social media messages, PSAs (radio and TV), billboards, posters, and brochures.

"Change the Script" is a toolkit that contains creative materials such as advertisements, posters, billboards, direct-distribution pieces, radio scripts, and other materials that can be co-branded and used locally. Ready-to-use materials that do not require customization are also available for distribution and use at the state level.               

Change the Script badge

"Change the Script RX" is a targeted campaign to prescribers to increase awareness and utilization of the CT Prescription Monitoring and Reporting System (CPMRS). It utilizes digital ads, direct mail, social media, posters, flyers and journal advertising to reach prescribers and pharmacist.

Change the Script logo


Common Risk Factors for Opioid Overdose:

  • Mixing opioids with other drugs, particularly alcohol or sedatives.
  • Resumption of use after a period of abstinence from opioid use, such as recent release from a rehabilitation center or from incarceration.
  • Elderly persons  may forget that they already took their medication and accidentally re-take the same medication.
  • Younger age, specifically the teens or early 20s exposed to peer pressure or a social environment where there is drug use.

Signs of an opioid overdose:

  • Face is extremely pale and/or clammy to the touch.
  • Body is limp.
  • Fingernails or lips have a blue or purple cast.
  • Vomiting or making gurgling noises.
  • Cannot be awakened from sleep or is unable to speak.
  • Breathing is very slow or stopped.
  • Heartbeat is very slow or stopped.

 What should I do if I see an overdose?

  • Call 911 immediately!
  • Support the person’s breathing.
  • Administer naloxone (Narcan) if you have it.
  • Lay the person on their side once they have resumed breathing.
  • Stay with the overdosed person until the ambulance arrives.  
This is a CDC program that helps states combat the ongoing prescription drug overdose epidemic. The purpose of Prevention for States is to provide state health departments with resources and support needed to advance interventions for preventing prescription drug overdoses.



Prescription Drug Overdose and the Role of Health Care Providers

Prescription Drug Overdose in Teens and Young Adults


Voluntary Opioid Opt-Out Form:

A person who does not wish to be issued a prescription or medication order for an opioid drug may file this Form with their healthcare provider. Upon receipt of the Form from the patients, a healthcare practitioner shall document receipt of the Form in the patient's medical record.

Using Naloxone to Reverse an Opioid Overdose: http://www.ctvideo.ct.gov/dmhas/NaloxoneTraining.wmv


Opioid Family Stories 

For further information, please visit the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services website.

For more information, please call

The Office of Injury Prevention 

(860) 509-8251