District Attorney points to ‘heartbreaking’ uptick in overdose numbers


Sandra Doorely says even in Covid-19 isolation, help is here

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Monroe County Heroin Task Force reported 80 overdoses & 17 fatalities for March 2020, up from March 2019 with 62 overdoses & seven fatalities reported.

“This is one of the deadliest months that we’ve had. It really is heartbreaking, especially in light of everything that’s going on in the community and around the world,” District Attorney Sandra Doorley said listing the isolation in the age of Covid-19 as a likely culprit.

Doorley said many of those overdoses involved mixes of opioids, usually fentanyl and heroin. She said even with the solitude right now, help is here. Many care centers have virtual classes and on-line communications. 

Earlier in March, the Monroe County Heroin Task Force released its two year progress report which included opioid overdose and seizure status statistics as well as opportunities available to those struggling with addiction.

In a graph illustrating the yearly average opioid use for 2017, 2018 and 2019, the numbers for overdoses, fatalities, non-fatalities and Narcan use, all declined by 2019.

However a month after the release of that report, things looks drastically different due to the coronavirus pandemic.

MORE | 26 COVID-19 deaths in Monroe County, 543 confirmed cases, 30 in ICU

“In a time when we’re all on lockdown in the Covid-19 situation, the connection people get through peer to peer support is paramount,” Carol Hulsizer with Mission Recovery and Hope, Inc. in Rochester said.

“Just that other voice of reason telling you ‘no, you can (quit), I did it,’ it makes a huge difference,” Hulsizer said.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office also weighed in on the overdose deaths. Sheriff Todd Baxter said, “We are still prepared to help, please contact us if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction.  Our enforcement is still ongoing.  We continue to pursue those selling this poison to members of our community.”

Doorley said there’s not just an uptick in illegal drug use, it’s also things like alcohol abuse and domestic violence. She said now is the time to look out and care for each other while the coronavirus pandemic, and accompanying isolation, continues.

“I urge anyone who is out there struggling, especially right now when they’re isolated and they’re probably feeling more so than they have in the past, reach out.”

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