Update, May 14: The Watertown Daily Times is reporting that Oswego Police arrested two men on felony drug charges in relation to the overdoses. That story here.
In the last few months, it’s become really obvious that heroin is a growing problem in the North Country (see NCPR’s recent reporting on heroin here.) More on that today in the news:
In Oswego, the Common Council voted Monday night to discontinue a local bar crawl (the Bridge Street Run) after three SUNY Oswego students overdosed on Friday night. Two students were hospitalized, the Watertown Daily Times reports, and one died. The council vote was unanimous, but according to the paper, reaction has been mostly negative to the decision.
In Malone, a forum on drug abuse Monday night aimed to introduce attendees (of which there were about 50) to the world of heroin and other opiates, use of which has been growing locally. That story from the Malone Telegram. Opiate use is rising, according to New York State Police Investigator Samuel Mercado, because of “the availability, the low cost, [and] the purity level.” Prescription opioids like Oxycodone also function as “gateway drugs,” Mercado said.
Beth Lawyer, director of North Star Behavioral Health Services, said the number of people being admitted for heroin use is rising rapidly: “Three years ago, less than 1 percent of our outpatient admissions for substance use treatment were primarily heroin users; today that number is close to 9 percent.”
There’s lots more detail in the article, but one interesting note: Malone is among the numerous towns in New York state to have requested Narcan, an opioid antidote that reverses the effects of the drugs in a few minutes, from the state. Funding for Narcan is available through a program through the Attorney General’s office. Malone’s not alone in the North Country: Lowville, Norwood and Moriah have also requested the kits. Malone’s police are training to use Narcan next Wednesday.