HADDAM — Health-care professionals, emergency service personnel, social service providers, elected officials and families who have lost children to opioid abuse met recently to give U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., a report from the front lines in the battle against the plague.

More than 40 people gathered at the Haddam Fire Station to share their thoughts about an overdoes crisis that took the lives of 1,076 Connecticut residents in 2017, and which shows no signs of relenting.

Murphy was on a recent five-town visit to cities and towns, with stops in Branford, Colchester, North Stonington and Waterbury, in addition to Haddam.

Murphy said he wanted to meet with people in the center of the fight against the scourge of opioid addiction to hear about their “best practices, their successes and the obstacles you face.”

Murphy came bearing little good news, saying, “This is getting worse, not better.”

“It’s taken us far too long to wake up” to the problem, even though, “We had tons and tons of warnings. We’re getting smarter and we are doing better. But we still have more people who are dying,” Murphy said, adding, “This is a problem I work on every day in Washington.”

In 2016, Congress allocated $1 billion to deal with the opioid crisis, he said. But that is $1 billion divided by 50 states.

In 2017, the picture became even bleaker, as advocates for more aid to deal with the crisis faced cuts to Medicare totaling 44 percent, Murphy said. That could mean a reduction of 35 percent to 40 percent in aid for Connecticut to fund the fight against opioids, Murphy said.

The senator underscored the depth of the problem by noting while Congress had allocated $1 billion to fight opioid addiction, it allocated $4 billion in 2015 to fight the Ebola virus.

Only four or five people in this country got Ebola, Murphy said, asking the painful question, “Why on earth did Ebola get $4 billion and opioids only got $1 billion?”

In large part, Murphy said, the answer is “discrimination.”

This is not discrimination based on race or religion, but perhaps an even more pernicious concept: that “folks who get addicted need to fix it because it’s their fault,” Murphy said. Despite a staggering rise of deaths, we are not treating this as a public health crisis.

“We’ve got to attack that bias and prejudice head-on,” he said.

But, to date, the ruling party in Congress and the president have been loath to confront the issue head on and adequately fund it, Murphy said.

Murphy disparaged the president’s choice to help lead the nation’s response to the continuing crisis: Taylor Weyeneth.

According to a Huffington Post report, Weyeneth is “a 24-year-old former Trump campaign worker who was appointed last year to be the deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the agency tasked with coordinating federal drug-control efforts.

As the conversation expanded, several speakers criticized hospitals for discharging patients who overdosed without dealing with the larger issues, which often include mental health issues.

Murphy was sympathetic, but he said in many cases, hospitals are forced to discharge patients — and not just addicts — because they do not have enough beds. The reason? They are not being adequately reimbursed by Medicare.

Catherine Rees, community benefit officer at Middlesex Hospital said, “Hospitals in Connecticut are talking about this. Fortunately, Connecticut is a small enough state that we can work together.”

A spokeswoman for the Shoreline Collaborative said members get together every month in a different community to discuss for dealing with social problems, including homelessness.

The state’s 211 help line exists in part to asset the homeless.

“But that we don’t have that for people with mental health issues,” she said.

Murphy said it is not fair to just blame hospitals. “We’ve got to get tough with the drug companies that are pushing these pills and with the health-care providers who continue to prescribe them.”

For many people afflicted with opioid addiction, their problems began when they were prescribed oxycodone, which served as a gateway drug to heroin and other even more dangerous drugs.

Two women who lost family members of the opioid crisis took the system to task for unregulated sober houses.

One family member said, “You’ve got to be high to get admitted to some of these sober houses,” so addicts go out and buy drugs in an effort to get admitted for treatment.

But as soon as an addict starts to feel better, many of the sober houses “send them right back out on the street. It’s a joke,” she said.

Ann Lindstrom, who lost her 28-year-old daughter, a talented glass maker, to an overdose last year, said the entire issue of drugs revolves around two realities: “greed and money.”

“There’s no accountability to anyone,” Lindstrom said. “I was involved every single day because I was trying to save my child’s life.”

But all too often, “rehab treats you for drugs, not for the underlying mental problems.”

Lindstrom called upon the state to enact a Baker Law, which allows a family to commit a member to a treatment facility if he/she poses a threat to his or herself.

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman pushed for more education programs to alert people to the dangers of drugs. He was joined by another speaker in calling on Murphy to do more to halt the wave of synthetic drugs — in particular fentanyl — flooding into the country.

“It’s almost a homeland security issue,” the man said.

Needleman also said the insurance industry “needs to be brought to heel.”

Murphy said he has proposed placing a fee on each oxycodone pill to build up a fund to provide enhanced treatment. However, he said the prospects for passing such legislation are not good.

Murphy said he wants to see addicts brought back into the community so they begin to re-enter society and in doing so have access to a fuller range of assistance.