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Overdoses in Steuben County rose sharply in April

The Steuben County public health department collects overdose data from first responders, to better address the overdose crisis.
Megan Zerez
Steuben County Public Health collects overdose data from first responders to better address the overdose crisis.

Forty people overdosed from opioids in Steuben County last month, a 38% increase compared to March, according to health department overdose data.

Of the 40 overdoses, three were fatal. The overdose-reversing drug naloxone, also called Narcan, was given nine times.

Lorelei Wagner, Steuben County’s public health education coordinator, said the Narcan numbers could be an undercount. That's because the data the county collects comes only from first responders.

“We don't have accurate data if say, a friend were to Narcan someone and didn't report that or didn't share that information,” Wagner said. “But we definitely would hope that Narcan administrations go up, so more lives are saved, so we don't have those three fatalities.”

Wagner did say the health department often sees fluctuations when it comes to overdose numbers. She said the warmer weather, perhaps prompting more people to gather, could account for some of the increase.

She said it is crucial that people in the community learn how to use Narcan to reverse overdoses. She added that people dependent on drugs still face a lot of stigma.

“I think if you were to ask anyone who does use drugs, they're using it not as a choice,” Wagner said. “If they had the option to be able to not be dependent on drugs and have to use them, they would take that choice.”

Wagner said putting out updated data is often an important reminder for people in the community. She said since the new numbers came out, the health department has seen an uptick in people seeking Narcan training.

Steuben County residents can visit the health department website, or call 607-664-2438 to find in-person and online training for Narcan administration. The county also sends Narcan kits to people who complete online training.