Fighting the opioid crisis: ‘Narcan will save them for the moment, then what?’

Fighting the opioid crisis: ‘Narcan will save them for the moment, then what?’

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Correction: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported a projected number of opioid deaths.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Fighting the opioid crisis. It’s part of the 2024 proposed budget presented by Monroe County Executive Adam Bello Tuesday afternoon. The proposed budget plan is 757 pages. It mentions everything from public safety to public health.

“I think it’s phenomenal that Adam Bello is dedicating money and resources to this — it’s just, I hope it’s real and I hope it’s significant and I hope it’s enough because it hasn’t been in my experience,” Shanna Baritot said.

Baritot’s sister suffered from a lifetime of addiction from the time she was 13.  Her health started declining while in the hospital for months, until one day her heart stopped and she died.

“She infected a valve in her heart with a dirty needle or many over time. When she was admitted to the hospital, they said her tox screen showed absolutely every drug you can imagine that was in her bloodstream,” she said.

Baritot believes the doctors at the hospital were great but wishes more could have been done to address her sister’s addiction.

“The whole time she was in the hospital there was no talk of rehab or recovery. They were simply just trying to keep her alive — which I understand, but at the same time her addiction was never addressed,” Baritot said.

In 2023 to date, there have been 2,465 overdoses in Monroe County, with 218 fatalities potentially due to overdose.

During the unveiling of the 2024 budget proposal, County Executive Adam Bello says the county has placed 500 Naloxone boxes throughout the county, including businesses. They contain Narcan spray..

Baritot would like to see more done to help save lives, but says it’s a good first step.

“Access is a good thing, but it’s a double-edged sword. It’s like a Band-Aid. That’s going to save them for the moment but then what, know that’s not enough,” Bartitot said.

One location where the county has placed Narcan sprays is Spot Coffee on East Avenue.

A shift manager there explained one of her family members is a recovering addict and believes having free access to Narcan sprays throughout businesses in the county is beneficial.

“There’s constantly people in here that you can tell are doped up on something — they use this, they take it so if their friends are overdosing if their overdosing people have it on them,” Alana Petronio said.