The Oneida County Overdose Response Team has issued an overdose spike alert regarding nine overdoses that occurred last week, two of which were fatal.
The overdoses, which occurred in Utica, Rome and New Hartford, likely involved fentanyl and a combination of heroin, cocaine and other unknown substances. The overdoses occurred between November 22 and November 26, with the fatalities taking place on November 22 and 23. Preliminary findings indicate that Naloxone (Narcan) was not readily available for administration in the two fatal overdose incidents, however, it was successfully used to reverse the seven non-fatal overdoses.
“The drug-risk environment is rapidly changing with the increasing combination of fentanyl with cocaine and methamphetamine being the leading cause of drug-related deaths in Oneida County so far this year,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “This is not only an increased risk for people who chronically use prescription or illicit opioids like heroin or fentanyl, but can in just one instance, take the life of a person that is opioid naive and unwittingly exposed to fentanyl in cocaine, methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana or counterfeit pills.”
According to surveillance data from the Overdose Detection & Mapping Application Program (ODMAP) and the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office, there has been a total of 77 fatal overdoses so far this year. An analysis of completed toxicology reports to date show the most frequent drugs associated with cause of death is fentanyl in combination with cocaine and/or methamphetamine.
Some public health officials have suggested that with rising polysubstance use (use of multiple drugs), the U.S. has entered a fourth wave of the opioid epidemic – a stimulant/opioid epidemic where stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine are being used knowingly or unknowingly in combination with opioids like fentanyl. The introduction of fentanyl in the non-opioid drug supply including counterfeit pills, is driving up fatalities across the nation.
The Overdose Response Team reminds people who use drugs and their friends and family members of the following:
- Using alone can be very dangerous and increases the risk for fatal overdose. “Never Use Alone” is an anonymous and confidential hotline available across the U.S. to prevent overdoses and save lives. It helps reduce this risk through having someone available over the phone who can help establish a safety plan and send medical help if needed. The Never Use Alone hotline can be reached at 1-800-484-3731.
- If you are a person that uses any street drug, including cocaine and methamphetamine, you are at risk for fatal opioid overdose and should have Narcan on hand. Harm reduction resources such as fentanyl test strips are available through support organizations such as ACR Health. Other community resources including treatment and recovery services are available at https://www.ocopioidtaskforce.org/get-help/
- The Oneida County Health Department has a “Narcan by Mail” program where individuals can fill out a confidential form to have Narcan mailed to their home or business at https://www.ocopioidtaskforce.org/find-narcan/.
In case of overdose, prolonged sedation, or other adverse reaction, call 911 right away and do not worry about repercussions since the Good Samaritan Law offers protection for such incidents.