Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council


Latest Trends in Heroin

What is the scope of heroin use in Middlesex County?

In 2010 an estimated 140,000 people age 12 or older used heroin for the first time in the past 12 months. The average age at first use was 21.3 years, significantly lower than the 2009 estimate of 25.5 years. (NSDUH)

Connecticut high school students were asked whether they had ever used heroin. An average 4.2% of boys and 1.7% of girls responded “yes” for a mean average of 2.9%. (YRBS, 2011) This is a significant gender difference, with two and a half times more boys than girls using heroin. There is also an ethnic divide. While Caucasian (2.5%) and African-American (2%) youth in Connecticut are similar in having tried heroin at least once, Hispanic youth are double that rate at 4.6 percent.

We are unable to draw a direct comparison between statewide and Middlesex County use of heroin. YRBS asks high school students about lifetime use; MCSAAC collects data on past twelve month use. Additionally, MCSAAC data is based on the question: “How many times, if any, in the last twelve months have you used heroin (smack, horse, skag) or other narcotics (like opium or morphine)?” Combining heroin with prescription painkillers will inevitably increase the number of students answering yes. The percentage of middle and high school students in our region answering “one or more times” is displayed in Graph A.

(Middle School = blue / High School = red)
Source: Mx. County Student Surveys 2010-2012

The Consequences of Heroin Use

On a national basis, heroin was reported as the primary substance of abuse for 14% of TEDS admissions aged 12 and older in 2010. A full 80% had been in treatment prior to the current episode, and 28% had been in treatment five or more times. Primary heroin admissions were more likely than all other substance abuse admissions to be self- or individually referred, rather than referred by the criminal justice system.

Heroin use takes a heavy toll on productivity. Only 12% of primary heroin admissions aged 16 and older were employed versus 23% of all admissions of that age. (TEDS)

In Connecticut, drug-related mortalities are reported by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The majority are multiple-drug overdoses; it is our assumption that the primary lethal drug is heroin or another opiate-based narcotic. Deaths by town are found in Table B.

Table B. Drug-related mortalities in

Middlesex County, 2007-2009

Middletown 12 Cromwell 1

Portland 7 Deep River 1

E. Haddam 4 Durham 1

E. Hampton 4 Essex 1

Haddam 3 Killingworth 1

Westbrook 2 Middlefield 1

Chester 1 Old Saybrook 1

Clinton 1 Total 41

Source: Office of Chief Medical Examiner

Our Capacity to Address This Issue

The CNAW recognizes all forms of opiates, including heroin, as an immediate threat to the population. Law enforcement is stretched thin in rural towns and heroin has been seized in all regions of the county. The number of treatment admissions and deaths is unacceptable, leading to the CNAW’s 3rd place ranking of heroin in terms of impact on health. On the other hand, Rushford and CVH are excellent local resources. The CNAW ranked our capacity at 3.3.

393 Main Street, 2nd floor Middletown, CT 06457