WXXI AM News

Opioid Crisis

WXXI, in partnership with public broadcasting stations across New York state, will air special programming examining the opioid crisis during the week of Oct. 15.

New York’s Opioid Crisis is a first-of-its-kind partnership to draw attention to this public health crisis and raise awareness of services available in local communities for those affected by opioid addiction.

Support for opioid crisis programming on WXXI is provided in part by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. A complete list of programs can be found here: WXXI.org/opioid-prog.

We want to hear what you have to say about opioid and heroin use in our community. Please click on this link to take a short survey.

 

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 continue our conversation with Dr. Tim Wiegand from UR Medicine about the opioid crisis. This hour, Dr. Wiegand discusses an opioid prescription "opt-in" program for patients post-surgery. He says that program has led to a significant reduction in opioid prescriptions.

We discuss the impact of the program and the broader opioid crisis. Our guest:

  • Tim Wiegand, M.D., director of toxicology at URMC, and associate director of the UR Medicine Combined Addiction Fellowship Training Program

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.

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