New York Health Department issues warning on increase in opioid-related deaths

The New York State Department of Health has reported an increase in opioid-related overdoses in the Central New York region, according to a Sept. 13 report from The Ithaca Voice.

Deaths related to overdose have climbed in the region, from 17 in 2019 to 19 in 2020 and 25 in 2021. 

There is historically a significant lag time in data collection for drug-related deaths, according to The Ithaca Voice. However, there were 12 drug-related deaths reported to the health department as of June 2022, which theoretically places the county on pace for 24 deaths for the entire year. 

In an Aug. 26 news release, the New York State Department of Health stated that 911 call numbers for overdoses were higher in 2021, which had 67 calls, than in 2020, which had 31 calls. The health department also noted that recent overdoses are likely linked to fentanyl. 

State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, MD, said fentanyl has made all street drugs more dangerous.

"Cases of overdose are on the rise in Central New York, but we can make each overdose less likely to be fatal. Fentanyl has made all street drugs more dangerous and non-opioid drugs like methamphetamines can be fatal, too. I carry naloxone, just in case. And I urge everyone never to hesitate to call 911," said Dr. Bassett

The health department urges residents to protect themselves with the following overdose prevention strategies: 

  • Never use alone
  • Use fentanyl testing strips as a precaution
  • Carry naloxone and be trained in its use
  • Seek treatment and support
  • Create an overdose prevention safety plan
  • Always dial 911 in the event of a medical emergency

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