In Orleans, opioid overdoses, deaths increased in 2018

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 March 2019 at 11:53 am

‘The opioid nightmare has touched everybody.’ – Undersheriff Chris Bourke

Photos by Tom Rivers: Undersheriff Chris Bourke said drug addiction fuels other crime in the county.

ALBION – The number of overdoses and drug fatalities increased in Orleans County last year, compared to 2017, Undersheriff Chris Bourke told the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition on Wednesday.

“The opioid nightmare has touched everybody,” he said.

In 2017, there were 52 overdoses and 7 deaths in the county from overdoses. That increased to 69 overdoses and 12 fatalities in 2018, with an additional death pending, Bourke said.

He supports the added programs in the county jail and community to help people fighting addictions. Many of the crimes in the county, including burglaries, are often fueled by people in the grip of addiction.

The opioid epidemic isn’t a problem the county can solve only through arrests, Bourke said.

Bourke was joined by Scott Wilson, the county jail superintendent, in addressing the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition.

The said the drug take-back program has been a success, removing 6,880 pounds of prescription medication and sharps since 2012. There is a drop-off box at the Orleans County Public Safety Building during regular business hours. The Albion, Holley and Medina police departments also have drug drop-off boxes.

The box at the Public Safety Building gets about 30-40 pounds a week of medicine that people want out of their homes, said Michael Mele, chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Office.

The Public Safety Building and the Medina and Holley fire departments also will be part of the drug take-back day on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those sites will be staffed on April 27 during the event.

Unused prescriptions can be dropped off. The pills and their containers are then packaged and incinerated.

In addition to those sites, there are drug drop-off collection boxes at Medina Memorial Hospital and Rosenkrans Pharmacy in Medina.

About 30 people attended the meeting Wednesday for the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition at Hoag Library in Albion.

In other news at the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition on Wednesday:

• The group reported it is working on the 5th annual National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Bullard Park in Albion from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Human service agencies and community organizations are welcome to participate in the event, which includes demonstrations by first responders, and family-friendly activities, including a Battle of Belts, to see which team of four can get in and out of a car the fastest while using seat belts.

• Lyndonville Central School will host Stephen Hill on April 5 from 8 to 9 a.m. in the school auditorium. He will share a prevention program about vaping and substance abuse.

• Patricia Crowley, the Coalition director, also said the organization is planning to survey students in grades 7 through 12 this fall about their use and perceptions of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, non-prescribed medications and e-cigarettes.

The Coalition has done the survey every two years, beginning in 2005. Orleans United’s survey includes students in Holley, Kendall, Lyndonville and Medina school districts. Albion does its own survey.

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