Jefferson County’s 2022 overdose deaths trending downward

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - So far this year, it looks like Jefferson County is seeing a decline in the number of overdose deaths.

In 2020, the county reported a total of 34 overdose deaths.

There were 32 in 2021.

So far in 2022, a total of 11 overdose deaths have been confirmed with another 6 pending toxicology reports.

Ten out of the 11 deaths this year were opioid-related.

“We are trending downwards in terms of prior years but still very very concerned about what’s happening in our community there’s a lot of activity in the city of Watertown, and we’re very concerned about that,” said Alliance for Better Communities Chairman Stephen Jennings.

He says this downward trend could be due to increased awareness and harm reduction efforts in the community.

“We’re working very hard to try to prevent any and all deaths with people, making sure that they access resources in the community, making sure that people who are using heroin, fentanyl, any substance. We have fentanyl test strips we are fanning out to the community,” he said.

Anita Seefried-Brown lost her son to a drug overdose 10 years ago.

“You, as a parent, have to be ready to help your child as the person who is suffering the disease,” she said.

Jason Langestaff is five years recovering from heroin use and says there’s a constant tug of war battle when it comes to addiction.

“You have to work every day to get it, to make sure. When my head hits the pillow at night, I know I won today, but I got to be ready again tomorrow. I got to be ready again tomorrow,” he said.

Although the number of overdose deaths is on pace to be lower this year, officials encourage spreading awareness.