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Opioid overdoses in Upstate New York have accelerated to crisis level

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

New York State is facing an opioid crisis with a 58 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths since 2019. The number of fatal overdoses has risen particularly sharply in Steuben County, where there was a 128 percent increase in the same period. The data, which was included in a 139-page report by the State Department of Health, shows that the opioid crisis is affecting all of the state’s counties.

According to Darlene Smith, Public Health Director of Steuben County, the opioid crisis is due to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to an increase in mental health issues such as depression, isolation, and loneliness. Furthermore, the rise in opioid usage can be attributed to the rise of fentanyl, which is often being found in recreational drugs.

In November, two people were found dead in a parked car in the town of Southport, Chemung County, and an autopsy revealed that a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl were the key factors in their deaths. Local officials are aware of the issue and are working to combat the crisis by making Narcan easily accessible to those in need, and providing a simple five-minute training for anyone to be able to help someone experiencing an overdose.

Smith said “It was a problem before COVID, but certainly COVID has exacerbated it.” Officials are making it a goal to continue being proactive and staying creative in the fight against the opioid crisis.