Jefferson County officials report ‘alarming’ suspected overdose activity

Updated: May. 18, 2020 at 3:31 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Jefferson County had 5 suspected overdoses over the weekend, adding to what health officials are calling alarming activity.

Over the last 9 days, there have been 15 suspected overdoses in Jefferson County, 2 of which were fatal.

"It's very alarming to us," said Jefferson County Public Health Planner Steve Jennings.

There have been 21 suspected overdoses so far this month. In April, there were 41 and 4 of those were fatal.

Jennings says while people will assume it has to do with the current pandemic.

"We don't know if that's the case or not. Before the pandemic there was really a huge increase in activity across the county and in New York state and that has just continued but we don't really understand what the true reason is," he said.

The overdoses were recorded by first responders through software called ODMAP and Jennings says there could actually be more overdoses not reported.

So far this year, Jennings says there have been 11 confirmed overdose deaths, with 4 more pending. Jennings says 73 percent of the confirmed deaths were caused by fentanyl.

"At this point of the year, that's very high and very concerning," he said.

If it keeps on this pace, the county is on track to hit 33 fatalities this year. To compare that to last year, there were 20 overdose deaths.

While officials try to figure out why this is happening and put a stop to it, they are asking people if they need help to access services, which they say are still fully functioning despite the pandemic.

“The office spaces are generally gonna be shut down, but we have all of our clinicians are still operating through teleservices, whether by phone or video. Rehabilitation services are still open, we have hotlines that are taking calls. If anyone needs service of any type you can call agencies directly or call one of our crisis lines locally,” said Tim Ruetten, Director of Community Services, Jefferson County.

Here's a list of community resources for people dealing with substance abuse problems:

- Anchor Recovery Center of NNY: 315-836-3460

- Credo Community Center for Treatment of Addictions: 315-788-1530

- ACR Health: 315-785-8222

- Samaritan Addiction Services: 315-779-5060

- Samaritan Medical Center - social worker on call: 315-785-4516

- Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

- Northern Regional Center for Independent Living: 315-785-8703 business hours; and (315) 785-8708 nights and weekends.

- Mobile Crisis Jefferson County: 315-782-2327

- Hope Line: 1-877-8-HOPENY or Text 46736

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