A problem that was here long before COVID-19 is opioid addiction and substance use disorders. The Oneida County Sheriff's Office is announcing another tragic surge in overdose cases and deaths.

The Oneida County Overdose Response Team announced Wednesday 18 overdoses and 4 overdose deaths over a 5-day period. Using their Overdoes Detection Mapping Application System, 18 suspected overdoses caused by heroin, cocaine and fentanyl were reported between December 30th, 2020 and January 3rd, 2021. Those 18 do not include the 4 deaths.

The triggering system alerts the task force of a spike of 4 or more cases in a 24-hour period. Officials say, during the time between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day 8 of the 18 overdoses were detected.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says,

This spike in overdoses and fatalities is of great concern as we continue to simultaneously combat the COVD-19 pandemic. To say that the past 10 months have been difficult is an understatement, and this is especially true for those struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. We must continue to remain diligent and on high alert over the next several months, and do all that we can to prevent additional overdose and death within our community.

Where as heroin and other opioids have been the main culprit of overdoses, the county task force claims during COVID-19 many of the spikes have been caused by cocaine use. Officials admit the information is anecdotal, but the increase in cocaine cases in uncharacteristic of what they normally monitor.

This problem continues to not only be a problem in Oneida County, but nationwide. The Sheriff's Office state in their release, "The ORT (Overdose Response Team) encourages people who use drugs to assume that substances like cocaine and methamphetamine also contain opioids, and to take the necessary precautions. These precautions include stocking up on Narcan, never using alone, and—if possible—testing substances for the presence of opioids before ingesting them. Fentanyl test strips are available for free by calling ACR Health at 315-793-0661."

One of the Pandemics that was here long before Coronavirus is substance use disorder and hopefully that cure or "vaccine" will soon arrive. The Sheriff's Office encourages anyone who witnesses or may be experiencing overdose symptoms to contact emergency medical personnel. The 'Good Samaritan' law prevents prosecution, in most circumstances, for drug or alcohol related offenses when someone is experiencing overdoes symptoms.

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