ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Thursday marks International Overdose Awareness Day. Local groups in Rochester are pushing their mission forward to encourage harm reduction and build on supports for those struggling with substance use.

So far this year, potential overdose deaths in Monroe County have more than doubled compared to this time last year. That’s according to the county’s public dashboard. Advocates in our community are calling for policy change as well as better education methods.

Lori Drescher lost her son, Jonathan, to a fatal overdose in 2021 due to fentanyl poisoning.

Before then, and after, she’s made it her mission to help educate and support those in need.

“My son was a victim to it. He left rehab and didn’t leave with the supports he needed. There are solutions if we can just reduce the stigma around those solutions and really think about saving lives. Overdose prevention sites save lives. Period. They’re not mass addiction sites. They save lives,” said Drescher.

The New York Recovery Alliance and Recovery All Ways gathered alongside community members on Joseph Avenue, a neighborhood significantly affected by drug use, to support one another and make their message clear.

“The push this year is for policy change. What we need now is, what is the solution? What are some of the tangible steps we can take to stop all of these unnecessary deaths? Every single overdose death is a policy failure,” said Christopher Abert, executive director of the New York Recovery Alliance.

Organizers bring forward a strong push for overdose prevention centers in Monroe County, which to this point, has not been approved.

Loved ones like Drescher continue to advocate with the hopes of preventing more tragedies in the future.

“I know that my purpose and my son’s purpose continues to be to help folks who need our help, and there are a lot of folks who need our help,” said Drescher.

The outreach work from both groups continues year-round. For more information on New York Recovery Alliance, visit here. Resources from Recovery All Ways can be found here.