Westchester’s Opioid Problem: What To Do

In 2017, there were 70,237 drug-overdose deaths nationally with opioids front and center. Locally, in Westchester, there was 183 reported overdoses in 2017 with 58 fatalities. This number is rising, as 213 overdoses were reported last year, with 68 of them being fatal. Not to mention, these numbers only reflect police reports, and don’t account for people revived with Narcan by a friend, or who went directly to the hospital for help.
The widespread crisis has hit Yonkers, Westchester’s largest city, the hardest. The city is working to fight back through education, law enforcement, and follow-up with victims for treatment. Westchester also became one of 60 counties in NYS to retain counsel or file lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, seeking unspecified damages and alleging that the opioid epidemic has caused significant increases in spending for law enforcement, prevention and treatment programs, and Narcan training.
As doctors are prescribing opioids less frequently and for shorter amounts of time, people are turning to buy pills on the street. Expensive street pills can often be fake – a mixture of heroin and fentanyl pressed into pills and being passed off as something else, like Xanax. Different task forces are working not only to track the number and locations of overdoses, but trying to use this information to discover patterns and collaborate on investigations. They are also encouraging treatment, with several programs available throughout the county, varying in approach, effectiveness, and cost. To learn more about the epidemic and the efforts in Westchester, visit here.