BALLSTON SPA — A Public Health Advisory was issued Jan. 20 by the Saratoga County Department of Health reporting an increase in drug-related overdoses – 10 in all including one fatality – during a 7-day period between Jan. 13-18. Six of the 10 cases involved males and the overall ages ranged from 17 to 41.
The local advisory coincides with the New York State Department of Health’s County Opioid Quarterly Report for January 2023 - released this week, noting a statewide 14% increase in 2021 overdose deaths involving opioids, compared to 2020. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported a 30% increase in overdose deaths nationally.
The state report, published quarterly, provides information about county-level health impacts related to heroin and opioid use and enables local communities to better respond to the opioid crisis.
Findings comparing state totals for 2021 to 2020 data:
-14% increase in overdose deaths involving opioids, with 4,766 deaths in 2021.
-12.6% increase in outpatient Emergency Department visits due to opioid overdoses, with 10,430 visits in 2021.
-30.2% increase in outpatient Emergency Department visits due to opioid overdoses other than heroin, including illicitly produced opioids such as fentanyl, with 5,137 visits in 2021.
-11.8% increase in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) naloxone administration encounters, with 19,139 in 2021.
Fentanyl is involved in the majority of overdose deaths in New York State and is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin, according to the state DOH.
Saratoga County says it has targeted responding to the opioid epidemic a priority. The County previously announced it will utilize Opioid Settlement Funds to expand efforts to mitigate the growing influence of drugs and addiction in local communities, through a variety of programs and investments.
“The County has multiple efforts underway to raise awareness of the dangers of substance abuse, to provide preventative and treatment measures to residents, and to provide law enforcement the tools and resources needed to combat the growing influence of drugs and alcohol in Saratoga County,” according to a statement released Jan. 21.
Last Sunday, the county DOH partnered with the Clifton Park and Halfmoon Emergency Corps to distribute free Naloxone Overdose Rescue Kits and provide Naloxone training in Clifton Park. Approximately 105 two-pack kits were distributed during the event. More than three dozen more kits have been requested since the event via the county’s website, according to a county spokesperson.
Naloxone – which works on opioids such as heroin, prescription pain medications and fentanyl - is a safe medication that can save someone’s life by reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. Anyone interested in obtaining a Narcan kit can fill out a request form at: saratogacountyny.gov/narcan/.
Saratoga County also notes the existence of New York State’s 911 “Good Samaritan Law,” which allows people to call 911 without fear of arrest if they are having a drug overdose that requires emergency medical care or if they witness someone overdosing.
Everyone — regardless of age — who seeks medical help for themselves or someone else during an overdose is protected by the 911 Good Samaritan Law. Specifically, that law protects: Possessing controlled substances up to and including A2 felony off¬enses (anything under 8 ounces); Possessing alcohol, where underage drinking is involved; Possessing marijuana (any quantity); Possessing drug paraphernalia; and Sharing drugs. The law does not protect: A1 felony possession of a controlled substance (8 ounces or more); Sale or intent to sell controlled substances; Open warrants for your arrest; and Violation of probation or parole.
The State also continues to advance 25 Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs) with over 81 sites statewide. SEPs address the needs of New Yorkers who use drugs and lead in the distribution of naloxone to New Yorkers vulnerable to overdose. The State’s 14 Drug User Health Hubs have been built upon the foundations of the SEPs. These centers focus on reducing overdose by providing easy access to buprenorphine, building safety plans with people who have experienced a non-fatal overdose and equipping participants with naloxone.
SCDOH and Saratoga County Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services have developed a Substance Use and Mental Health Resource Directory that individuals and families can use to find area recovery and support resources. The 35-page directory is available via the county website at: saratogacountyny.gov.
Local residents requesting more information or seeking answers to questions regarding help with opioids/substance abuse may send their inquiries to: opioids@saratogacountyny,gov.