Mother who lost son to overdose recalls the phone call that ‘sets your body on fire’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We heard a story from a mother who described a phone call that, in her words, set her body on fire.

The caller said Lori Drescher‘s only son was dead, killed by an overdose.

Drescher hopes her story helps you care about the millions of dollars that arrived into our community Thursday.

The money is from settlements between New York State and a handful of drugmakers and distributors.

Fourteen people in Monroe County died from an overdose in September.

The tally is more than 100 this year.

When Drescher walked to the podium at the news conference today, she placed her son’s hat on a chair.

"The hat that can no longer sit on my son’s head," she told the crowd inside the Monroe County Office Building.

The first time I met Lori Drescher was seven years ago at a press conference about heroin addiction with then-governor Andrew Cuomo.

In the audience was her son Jonathan who was battling addiction.

Last February, Lori’s phone rang and she was told Jonathan overdosed and died.

"I received the call that sets your body on fire," she said. "My son was just one precious boy among 99,000 in the United States in the 12 month period ending March 2021 who lost their life to drug overdose."

Thursday, State Attorney General Tish James presented the county with a $14 million check and the city with a $5 million check.

The money is from the drug company settlement with the attorney general’s office and, unlike tobacco settlement money six years ago, it can only be used for treatment and outreach for addiction.

Tish James, NYS Attorney General: "The tobacco settlement was used for roads and bridges and lights and everything else. And I don’t have a problem with lights and bridges and roads and everything else. But it was not intended for that purpose. And that is why we worked with the state legislature to ensure these funds will go primary to treatment and prevention and education."

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said the county has a trust fund for the money.

Adam Bello, Monroe County Executive: "That we are going to put Monroe County’s share of these settlement funds into so they can be used for no other purpose by my administration or any future administration other than the direct fighting of the opioid crisis in our community."

Drescher said she polled all the people she has trained in helping with addiction and asked what should be done with this money.

They said three things.

  • An advisory board that includes people fighting addiction.
  • Recovery housing and staffing.
  • And what she called harm reduction services.