‘We’re testing fentanyl on everything’ MCSO on overdose crisis

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The numbers are staggering. The CDC reports more than 107,000 Americans died from a drug overdose last year. This is a new record compared to 2020.

News10NBC tracked down some local numbers to see what’s happening here. We talked to a member of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Heroin Task Force. While our 2021 numbers are slightly lower than 2020, right now the task force is seeing huge a spike.

"We had seven fatal, and 41 overdoses okay in Monroe County," said Deputy Michael Favata. "That number is a little bit lower than it was a month before. April is pretty high. So again it’s a roller coaster. It’s all over the board."

Favata said Monroe County is not immune to the number of people dying from a drug overdose. He said most overdoses have one thing in common.

"Everything that we test, that we get on any of our search warrants, or from an overdose whether it’s fatal, or non-fatal we’re testing fentanyl on everything," Favata said.

He also says one of the biggest hurdles is trying to get someone battling addiction into treatment.

"Either they don’t feel well, or they know what’s going to happen through the detox process they get extremely sick," Favata said. "Somebody that’s not ready to do it no matter what we do it’s very difficult."

Michele Lawrence is a Co-Principal Investigator of the University of Rochester Recovery Center of Excellence.

"When you took away the prescription drugs you basically saw an increase in heroin," Lawrence said. "Now we see a decrease in heroin by about 6-percent, and now we’ve seen an increase of 15% in synthetic opioids. So things like fentanyl."

The Center of Excellence is one of three in the country that’s been tasked with looking at ways they can look at evidence-based practices in rural areas hardest hit by synthetic drugs. Next week the center is hosting a three-day summit aimed at addressing the stigma around addiction, and equality when it comes to treatment.

"I really hope that people can connect with each other, and find a way to overcome not only opioid use disorder, but all of the substance use disorder that is adversely impacting our communities," Lawrence said.

The Summit hosted by the Center of Excellence is free and open to the public. Click here for the list of invited speakers, and all other information on the event.