WXXI AM News

opioid

As of earlier this month, Monroe County has seen an increase in opioid overdoses -- both fatal and non-fatal --compared to this time last year. The work of first responders who arrive at the scene can be the difference between life and death.

A new documentary called "Opioids from Inside: First Responders" explores the epidemic from the perspective of firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics who are on the front lines. The film airs on WXXI-TV on Tuesday, but first, we get a preview with the men and women featured in it. They discuss their work and how the crisis has affected them personally. Our guests:

  • David Marshall, director and co-producer of "Opioids from Inside: First Responders"
  • Lt. John Vagg, Rochester Fire Department
  • Dr. Scott Dent, M.D., family medicine specialist at Rochester Regional Health
  • Krista Lattuca, Rochester resident in recovery, and recovery coach at Rochester Regional Health  

We check in on the opioid crisis and how the pandemic has impacted it. Harvard’s Julia Marcus has compared the pandemic to the opioid crisis and the AIDS crisis when it comes to harm reduction strategies. We discuss what works and what the experts are learning.

Our guests:

  • Tim Wiegand, M.D., director of toxicology at URMC, and associate director of the UR Medicine Combined Addiction Fellowship Training Program
  • Julie Stampler, harm reductionist and board member of the National Harm Reduction Coalition

Monroe County Heroin Task Force

More than twice as many people died of opioid overdoses in Monroe County this April and March compared to the same months last year, according to data from the county’s heroin task force.

The combined 2019 death toll for the two months was 12. During the same period this year, the county recorded 29 fatal overdoses.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Favata, the head of the county’s heroin task force, said the social isolation brought on by distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 is likely driving some people toward drug use as a coping mechanism.

Gino Fanelli/CITY Newspaper

Deaths from heroin in Monroe County have shrunk by a wide margin over the past two years, but users are still overdosing at roughly the same rate, according to new data from the county's Heroin Task Force.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced a bill to fund community support programs for people who have substance use disorders, as well as their families. 

The bill, called the Family Support Services for Addiction Act of 2020, would create a $25 million pool of grant money for non-profit organizations that work in the addiction field.

NORC at the University of Chicago

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have received a $6.7 million federal grant to study how to reduce the toll of the opioid epidemic in rural Appalachian counties.

“It’s not as far away from us in Rochester as it sounds,” said Michele Lawrence, one of the principal investigators on the research team. “Many people don’t realize that Appalachia extends to New York’s Southern Tier.”

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Rochester Drug Cooperative, which has paid millions of dollars to settle federal charges connected to opioid trafficking, said Tuesday that it will no longer sell any controlled substances.

"RDC will cease distribution imminently," the company wrote to its customers. "Seek immediate alternative arrangements to procure controlled substances."

Monroe County Sheriff's Office

Deaths in Monroe County from opioid overdoses decreased in 2019 for the second straight year, according to data released this week by the county’s heroin task force.

The numbers are preliminary and usually differ slightly from the official tally from the county medical examiner’s office that comes out later in the year. Still, they offer a glimpse into a changing tide in an epidemic that’s claimed more than 300,000 lives nationwide, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Monroe County

Opioid overdose deaths in July reached their second-highest monthly total since Monroe County law enforcement agencies started tracking the data at the beginning of 2018.

Seventeen people died of overdoses in July, according to the Monroe County Heroin Task Force, up from a low of four people in April.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

A group of surgeons in upstate New York has adopted new guidelines for prescribing opioids.

The recommendations, developed by a team convened by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, aim to reduce excess supply of the drugs in the midst of an opioid epidemic that killed almost 200 people in Monroe County last year.

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