ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s a sobering reality. The opioid epidemic is not slowing down in Monroe County.
According to the Monroe County Heroin Task Force, in Monroe County this year — through September — there have been 525 drug overdoses, 105 fatal. That’s on pace to match 2020 which saw 726 overdoses, 137 of which resulted in death.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Favata is a member of the Monroe County Heroin Task Force. Its focus is to eliminate harmful addiction.
“I try to follow up with every single overdose that happens in the City and the County,” Fatava said. “The whole plan is to attack it from every angle. That’s what we do.”
Efforts to choke off the supply of illegal drugs have been successful. Favata cited a recent investigation that resulted in the arrest of 26 people on drug and gun charges. But he said the best way to stop the overdose epidemic is to end the demand. “Our main focus is educating our kids.”
Task Force members are in schools across Monroe County warning students about the dangers of drugs.
The COVID pandemic slowed that mission, but it’s ramping up again.
Favata said it’s easy for students to go down the wrong path.
“Adderall runs rampant between high schools and colleges,” Fatava said. “The kids use it to stay alert, study, and so on and so forth. But when you’re seeing pills that are pressed that look like Adderall or look like Percocet, or look like whatever it may be, that’s dangerous. Well tell these kids, we talk to them about — if it’s not your prescription — don’t take it.”
Favata acknowledges the fight against addiction can feel like swimming upstream. But there are success stories. He shared a recent post on his Facebook page from a person he helped get clean.
“Just want to let you know that I’m sober going on six months and couldn’t be happier with life,” Fatava. “I still think about when you reached out to me when nobody else would and I want you to know that I deeply appreciate that and appreciate you helping me, and all of the other addicts you’ve helped.”
Favata said that kind of feedback gives him all the motivation he needs to do his job every day. “If you can save just one life every year, then all of the work that goes into it is worth it.”
Learn more about the Monroe County Heroin Task Force, visit monroecounty.gov/sheriff-heroin-task-force.