Chenango County is experiencing a surge in overdoses, possibly from a tainted batch of heroin, according to the Chenango County Behavioral Health Services.
Program Coordinator Matthew Skojec said the increase in overdoses includes both deaths and Narcan-induced reversal of overdoses. As of Wednesday, March 25, the number of deaths in the county was “less than a half-dozen,” Skojec said.
“We’re probably looking at a two to three week window since this started,” Skojec said. “We don’t have a definitive reason. The most likely possibility is that there is a tainted batch of heroin that's made it in to the area, although we don’t know with what.”
Skojec said sometimes this can be things like fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s website. A filler agent may also have been put in the substance, he said.
This is based on the reports of participants in various opioid overdose prevention programs and recovery groups in the area, Skojec said.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic remains open and provides services with 10 people in the office and the remainder of clinicians working from home, he said.
“We do maintain staff here at the clinic so all people’s needs can be met,” Skojec said. “We are referring people to appropriate care if necessary and treating them on an outpatient basis if that’s appropriate.”
There are two overdose prevention programs in the county, he said. The Southern Tier AIDS Program in Norwich’s Eaton Center provides training, a Naloxone kit and a prescription to be able to carry and dispense the medication, according to its website. Contact the center at 607-373-4619 to learn more.
There is also Bainbridge’s Southern Chenango County Recovery Resources — an affiliate group of Truth Pharm, a harm reduction organization that started in Broome County in 2015. Truth Pharm can be reached at 607-245-6878.
“We believe even if a person isn’t ready to quit substances or ready for recovery, we can still provide care, hook them up with resources they might need in the meantime,” Truth Pharm Executive Director Alexis Pleus said to The Daily Star in January.
Chenango County Behavioral Health Services is in the process of becoming certified as an opioid overdose prevention program, Skojec said. This would allow the clinic to increase availability and access to Narcan in the county, he said. The clinic can be reached 607-337-1600.
The Office of Addiction Services and Supports maintains a treatment locator website, www.findaddictiontreatment.ny.gov/.
Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at email@example.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.