Candidate calls conference on heroin abuse

Fairfield's Kevin Coyner, running in 132nd District, to host talk at library July 10

Fairfield resident and Democratic candidate for state representative Kevin Coyner invites the media and members of the public to a roundtable discussion on heroin and opiate abuse, co-sponsored by the Fairfield Public Library, at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 10. in the Rotary Room at the library, 1080 Old Post Road.

“In Connecticut, 257 people died from a heroin overdose in 2013, a jump from 174 deaths reported in 2012,” Coyner said, citing Connecticut Post reports.

“Education is empowerment, and the fact of the matter is that opiate abuse is on the rise in our region,” Coyner said in a press release. “I’m assembling this forum to help people better understand what can be done together to combat the growing problem of heroin use and opiate-related deaths in this area.”

The discussion will feature panelists with varying experience and views on heroin in Connecticut: Ginger Katz of the Courage to Speak Foundation; Shawn M. Lang, director of Public Policy at AIDS Connecticut; Jerry McGuire, Fairfield firefighter and Bridgeport AMR medic; Capt. A.J. Perez  of the Bridgeport Police Department Tactical, Narcotics and Vice Division; and a member of the Fairfield Police Department.

In addition to the rise of heroin abuse in the state, panelists will also discuss the use of naxolone, a “life-saving medication capable of reversing reversing an opioid overdose,” according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Since 2001, naxolone (brand name Narcan) has reversed more than 10,000 heroin overdoses nationwide.

“While Connecticut was slow to harness the power Narcan has to battle the heroin epidemic, Massachusetts set an example by equipping police in the city of Quincy with the nasal spray. Between 2010 and 2014, Quincy police administered Narcan 221 times, and were able to reverse overdoses 211 times,” Coyner said in a press release.

Like Massachusetts, Connecticut has a Good Samaritan Law that grants limited immunity to drug users who seek help for someone who has overdosed. Recently, Connecticut expanded its Good Samaritan Law to allow bystanders to administer Narcan to a friend or loved one who has overdosed, and the Department of Health gave the green light for our emergency medical technicians to carry and administer the medication.

“While these developments are big steps in the right direction, work remains to get the Narcan kits into the right hands and to inform the public of the growing issue of heroin and opiate overdoses,” Coyner said in a press release.

Coyner and his wife, Natalia, live in the Pine Creek area of Fairfield. He works as a career firefighter for the Town of Greenwich and presently serves on the town’s Retirement Board.
More information on his campaign can be found coyner2014.com.

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