The overdoses — which occurred in Utica, Rome, Floyd and Marshall — involved multiple drugs, the majority of which were identified as cocaine and methamphetamine laced with an opioid that is likely fentanyl. The overdoses occurred between March 10 and March 12, 2023. Year-to-date there have been seven overdose fatalities, the last of which occurred on March 8th in Sauquoit.
“The one consistent and often deadly culprit we are seeing in most of our overdose clusters is fentanyl” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Fentanyl has permeated the illicit drug supply and can be found in all classes of street drugs including drugs purchased online and via social media. This has completely changed the risk for overdose fatality. A person can no longer think, ‘I did it before and I was fine’. With the mixing of potent illicit fentanyl in often lethal doses in almost every kind of street drug, just one time can kill.”
The Overdose Response Team conducts a rapid assessment to identify factors that may be contributing to overdose spikes. While there has been concern over reports of blue and purple substances circulating and causing overdoses among long-time chronic users, no definitive link has been established to this latest spike alert. There have been additional reports of individuals believing they were using cocaine or methamphetamine and unknowingly ingesting an opioid, likely fentanyl.
Over 70% of all drug-related deaths in Oneida County in 2022 involved fentanyl. The majority of these involved a combination of cocaine and methamphetamine with fentanyl. Individuals using those drugs should take the same harm reduction precautions as those using opioids such as carrying naloxone, fentanyl test strips and never using alone.
People who use drugs and their loved ones can access treatment and recovery services by calling 211. Free Narcan-by-mail is available through the Oneida County Health Department by visiting https://www.ocopioidtaskforce.org.