Deadly overdoses up in Monroe County this year amid national uptick

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The United States has hit a tragic milestone: 100,000 drug overdose deaths in just one year. The staggering number of deaths have a few root causes including the lockdowns and the availability of highly potent street drugs.

News10NBC has been digging deeper into the statistics and spoke with local experts.

Experts from the National Center For Health Statistics said last year roughly 78,000 people nationwide died from drug overdoses. In a 12 month period that ended back in April, the number of deaths shot up almost 30%.

Addiction-related deaths are attributed to many losing access to their treatment programs, mental health problems, as well as mostly-synthetic opioids, which are often laced with fentanyl. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office shared some of its numbers during the last 12 months.

"We’re 46 less overdoses as of right now. I checked before we came out, and this time last year, but we’re plus eight on fatals. So we’re eight more that we were as of this time last year," said Deputy Michael Favata.

Lori Drescher, Founder of Recovery Coach University lost her own son, Jonathan, earlier this year after he overdosed on opioids. She said she’s not shocked by the news.

"We’ve known all along that we’re up 30%. Our numbers started increasing before COVID," said Drescher.

She went on to say COVID-19 did affect many on the road to recovery.

"I think that our response from a treatment and recovery community was very poor," Drescher said. "We shut doors. We were very, very slow to respond to tele-med type technologies. There was no crisis plan in place for something like this across the board."

Drescher did say community-based support programs were available, but Deputy Favata said things will keep getting worse until people who are addicted to these types of drugs are ready for recovery.

"Can’t force anybody to do it. Can’t force somebody into treatment. Can’t force anybody to stop anything," Favata said.

Drescher added, "Until we start changing our attitude toward people who use drugs this problem is not gonna go away."

Drescher went on to say that we’re treating this drug problem just like we did when it came to alcohol and prohibition. She said you know how that turned out.