BATH, N.Y. (WETM) — Overdoses from all kinds of drugs are on the rise in Steuben County, according to the Steuben Prevention Coalition.
This time last year, the Coalition had counted 58 known or suspected overdoses, 4 of which were fatal. This year, the Coalition has counted 90 overdoses, 7 of which were fatal. This trend is worrisome for the Coalition. Not only does it mean they have to work harder to get their message out there, but more work is needed on the prevention front.
With most of the prevention focused on youths and teens, most grade-schoolers in Steuben County have not seen an increase in opioid usage, with the sole exception of 12th graders, who have seen an increase of 0.2% relative to their last survey, and 0.3% higher than the national average. Colleen Banik, the Program Director for the Coalition, says that the biggest problems with young people are marijuana and alcohol use, but any increase in opiate use, no matter how small, is scary.
Of greater concern is the rising prevalence of fentanyl being used to lace marijuana and other drugs that are not opioids. According to a press release from the Village of Bath Police Department last week, “There is no such thing as just heroin anymore, it is all mixed with different percentages of fentanyl. The only safe bet is to never try it.”
Connie Terry, Program Assistant for the Steuben Prevention Coalition Opioid Committee, says that carrying Narcan or Naloxone is something that anyone can do to potentially help save a life. Free training on how to use this life-saving product are prevalent, happening at least once a week. In New York, if you have a prescription insurance plan, you can get Narcan for free at participating pharmacies. Narcan isn’t just for heroin or fentanyl, it is effective on all opiates. For example, if someone accidentally double doses on painkillers, it can lead to an overdose. Narcan could save their life.
National Drug Takeback Day is April 30th. Sponsored primarily by the Drug Enforcement Agency, it allows people to gather their drugs, prescription or otherwise, and dispose of them in a safe manner. Designated locations in Steuben County and other counties will be taking back these drugs and will be distributing disposal packets. If you can’t make it that day, there are other means of disposing of drugs. Deterra sells a kit available at some pharmacies that can be shipped to the home and is capable of deactivating opioids in an environmentally friendly manner.
To learn more about the Steuben Prevention Coalition you can go to their website at steubenpreventioncoalition.org
To learn more about National Drug Takeback Day and find a disposal site near you, go to deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/