[Excerpt from news feature by Steve Hamm, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, appearing in the Middletown Press and elsewhere:


"[....] Though the distribution of pills in Fairfield County was the lowest in the state, the Post database showed that pharmacies in the region still sold millions of pills between 2006 and 2012. The highest seller in the county during that time was Walgreen’s Eastern Co., Inc. in Stratford, which sold nearly 4.5 million pills between 2006 and 2016. Two of the county’s top five sellers were in Stratford, two were in Bridgeport and one was in Norwalk.

The evidence is strong that the spread of pills and opioid addiction has devastated communities in the Naugatuck River Valley. Last year alone, there were 80 deaths from drug overdose in Waterbury and another 24 in Torrington, according torecords of the Connecticut State Medical Examiner.

The epidemic has also taken a toll in Fairfield County — particularly Bridgeport, where the medical examiner’s report shows there were 58 overdose deaths last year.

In 2015, the Conn. Health I-Team was the first to report that a nurse practitioner at a Derby pain clinic was among the 10 top prescribers of oxycontin in the country. The state barred practitioners at the clinic from participating in the Medicaid program because of improprieties in treatment and oversight. One of them, Heather Alfonso, pleaded guilty to federal charges that she took kickbacks from a drug company in exchange for prescribing cancer pain medications.

In the 2018 DataHaven Community Wellbeing Survey, 33 percent of Valley respondents said they knew someone who has struggled with opiate misuse, compared to about 31 percent statewide.

“This may seem like a little bucolic, protected corner of the world, but it’s not so. We have the same issues as everybody else,” says Maria Coutant-Skinner, executive director of the McCall Center for Behavioral Health, a substance abuse treatment organization in Torrington. [....]"