Local Drug Overdose Trends Are MixedPosted: Updated:
No matter which county you live in, drug overdoses are still a problem.
"New York State is doing better than the nation as a whole on the drug issue particularly and I think it's because we've invested a lot of resources to try to address it," said Jefferson County Public Health Planner Steve Jennings.
When it comes to the north country though, the trends are mixed.
In Jefferson County, the trend is better. But as for Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, the numbers are rising.
Jennings attributes Jefferson County's improvement to the number of resources and help available.
"I think it shows that what we've put in place is working and we need to put more in place," he said.
In Lewis County though, there was a spike in overdose deaths, including drugs and alcohol, between 2016 and 2017, when they jumped from 4 to 11.
"That might have been influenced by the drug dealers instilling fentanyl into the heroin. Clearly, that was something we couldn't anticipate," said Pat Fralick, director of Lewis County Community Services.
While the numbers aren't out yet for 2018, there is some good news as Fralick says the amount of overdoses has declined this year so far.
St. Lawrence County also had a large jump from last year to this year. Public health officials plan to do a county-wide assessment to figure out how to better combat the drug issue.
"Our county is so large. We don't always know who's doing what. That county-wide assessment is also going to help us know who are the providers that can provide treatment, what in-patient services we have and what out-patient services we have," said Dana Olzenak McGuire, St. Lawrence County Public Health director.
Drug overdose deaths have contributed to the decline in life expectancy across the U.S., because they're killing more younger people.
In all three counties we looked at, there has been a rise in more people between the ages of 25 and 44 dying, but we don't have any recent data to show if life expectancy has dropped in those areas.