Jefferson County’s 2022 drug overdose deaths

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:47 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - When it comes to drug overdoses in Jefferson County, 2022 was deadly - almost as deadly as the year before.

In 2021, Jefferson county reported 32 overdose deaths and 2022 could be close to that.

A county report shows a total of 21 overdose deaths with another 8 deaths that need toxicology reports to come back.

Of those 21 confirmed deaths, almost all were related to opioids and fentanyl.

“It’s a substance that kills people and we need to continue to educate about it and make sure people know there’s resources to help them,” said Stephen Jennings, deputy public health director.

Jennings hopes people will be less isolated in 2023 and overdose deaths could come down.

“That’s what we want. We want people to be healthy and productive and functioning,” he said.

First Baptist Church Pastor Jeffrey Smith says the first step to putting a stop to addiction is an addict’s want to stop the addiction.

“There’s hope you can come out, you can get your life straight, you can be something, you can be a productive citizen if you truly want to do it. You got to change your people, place, and things,’ he said.

Meanwhile, at Alliance for Better Communities, Anita Seefried-Brown believes the best way to prevent overdoses is by increasing awareness and handing out more harm reduction kits, which allow addicts to test drugs for fentanyl.

“Can we do more? probably. 2023 is a new year and we will step up our efforts more stronger than they were in 2022,” she said.

In 2022, Seefried-Brown said her agency handed out more than 200 Narcan kits to the community. Narcan is a drug that can offset the effects of an overdose and save an addict’s life.