WXXI AM News

becky baker

Becky Baker and Kelsey Hansen / Substance Overdose Awareness Recovery Services

As the number of lives lost to opioids continues to grow in the Rochester area, a new support group has formed to reach out to young adults who have lost friends and loved ones.

Becky Baker, who helped organize the group, said an all-ages grief group that formed last summer has been so popular that it’s outgrown successive meeting places from an Irondequoit garage to a church.

But, Baker said, the group has lacked a space devoted to the needs and experiences of young adults.

Drug Enforcement Administration

October saw the most opioid overdoses in Monroe County since the sheriff’s heroin task force started keeping track in January.

It was also the second-most-deadly month for people who overdosed, with 17 fatalities in the county, the sheriff’s data showed.

The oldest overdose victim was 65, according to the county’s data. The youngest was 17. There were 116 overdoses total.

“I cried. I just cried,” said Becky Baker, describing her reaction when she saw the latest data.

Baker shares her phone number with people addicted to opioids and their families. She tells them to call if they want help finding a slot in a treatment program.

Now, she says, she gets as many calls about deaths as she does about treatment.

“My phone has not stopped. The funerals keep coming,” Baker said. “I keep getting messages that ‘did you know so-and-so-has lost their life?’ It’s gut-wrenching. It’s heart-breaking. Our grief group keeps growing and growing.”

Helio Health

Helio Health, which runs all 25 of the inpatient detox beds in Monroe County, stopped accepting appointments and moved to a walk-in-only system in August.

The change, which has not been reported until now, means there is no longer a waitlist to access inpatient detox, but it also means people might have to arrive early to score a bed at the clinic on University Avenue.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Even as the number of treatment options for opioid and other substance addictions has increased in Monroe County in recent months, medical officials are concerned that the people who need those treatments don’t know what’s available.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Today, Chacku Mathai is the CEO of the Mental Health Association of Rochester.

But at 15, he wanted to die.

Describing himself as an immigrant kid with dark skin in a largely white neighborhood, he said he felt misunderstood and targeted at school. He attempted suicide by overdosing on alcohol and other drugs.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Families and friends of people addicted to drugs marked International Overdose Awareness Day in Rochester by sharing messages of hope and support, and calling for more addiction treatment options locally.

Thursday's event at the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Park drew hundreds of people, including addiction recovery service providers and representatives of the city of Rochester, surrounding towns and counties, and the state’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.

Gates Police

Local support groups working with people addicted to opioids distributed what they were calling “recovery first aid” kits to government officials Tuesday.

The kits contained contact information for a half-dozen groups that provide services ranging from overdose treatment to grief counseling. David Attridge, executive director of Gates to Recovery, unveiled the kits and presented them to Monroe County legislators at their August meeting.