STEUBEN COUNTY, N.Y. (WENY) — In New York more than 2,600 people died from an opioid overdose in 2021 representing a 58 percent increase since 2019. In Steuben County alone the county saw a 128 percent increase in fatal overdoses in that same time period.
“Well, I don’t think there is any one single reason why Steuben County as well as really, I think most every county across the state and probably every state across the union is seeing an increase in the number of opioid overdoses as well as fatalities,” said Darlene Smith, public health director of Steuben County.
A new 139-page State Department of Health report included overdose data for all of New York listed county by county. It shows that overdoses are just as much of a problem locally as anywhere else in the state.
“It was a problem before COVID, but certainly COVID has exacerbated it,” said Smith.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, people were spending much more time at home, something experts say could have contributed a rise in opioid usage. COVID restrictions led to an increase in reports of mental health issues, like depression, isolation and loneliness said Smith
The rise in overdoses and deaths can also be partially blamed on the rise of fentanyl. Health experts say it’s often being laced in day-to-day recreational drugs, including opioids.
An autopsy revealed a cocaine and fentanyl mixture were key factors in the deaths of two people who were found dead in a parked car in the town of Southport of Chemung in November. Smith said local officials are aware of the issue and are making it a goal to continue being proactive and staying creative to combat this crisis.
Narcan is accessible to those in need and a simple five-minute training is all you need to help someone experiencing an overdose.
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