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.

 

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.”

There are many reasons why the opioid crisis is so hard to confront. One of them is social stigma. It often extends beyond users themselves, to their families.

Hope and Pete Troxell live in Frederick, Maryland. Last year, their 34-year-old daughter Alicia died after overdosing on fentanyl – a synthetic form of heroin. She was seven months pregnant. Hope says before Alicia's death, they often felt the weight of judgment.

"So many people look at these [people] that are addicted to drugs, they call them every name in the book. They're junkies, they're thieves."

Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority

Rochester’s Regional Transit Service has begun training its employees in a potentially lifesaving response to opioid overdoses.

Transit service workers are learning how to administer naloxone, often sold under the brand name Narcan, which can reverse an overdose.

The agency’s public information officer, Tom Brede, said it’s a reflection of how the opioid epidemic has become a “community crisis.”

“We’re not the emergency medical response,” Brede said, “but we do have a role.”

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.

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