Drug-related deaths in Steuben County have more than doubled in the past year, but officials are holding a forum on Tuesday night to help addicts and their families.

Significant trends of opioid-related deaths in the area are driving the county to hold its second forum this year, but this time it’ll be held at Hornell High School to get the conversation going in another part of the county. 

In 2015, there were four opiod-related deaths in Steuben. The following year there were 16.

“Sixteen doesn’t sound like a lot, but when they’re your family members, when they’re your neighbors, it’s a big deal, and it shows the growth of this epidemic,” County Manager Jack Wheeler said.

On the enforcement end, the Sheriff’s Office was involved in 156 felony arrests of narcotic sales with over 50 percent being opioid-based, primarily heroin, as compared to 10 percent the previous year.

The last forum was held at Bath Haverling High School, but Tuesday night’s open discussion will continue the last by providing resources to addicts or family members of.

With a diverse panel of county officials, doctors, and related agency representatives, the environment is nonjudgmental.

“We have a couple of recovering addicts that speak at each of the forums,” Sheriff James Allard said. “They talk about what was the trigger for them, what got them to seek help and actually take the help because most addicts will go to two or three rehab stints before it’s successful for them.”

Audience members are free to ask where turn to, who they can call, and where to get treatment.

February’s forum saw about 100 people in attendance.

“We’re pleased by the response, but it’s also something we don’t like to see in that it shows the breadth of the problem in the area, but any little bit we can do to try and raise awareness is a good thing,” Wheeler said.

The event starts at 5:30 P.M. with an information table with existing services, and the panel is set from 6-7:30 P.M. Pre-registration was not required and attendees can show up at any time. 

The county is hoping to have a third forum in the fall at Corning-Painted Post High School. 

Hornell High School address: 134 Seneca St, Hornell, NY 14843.