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Health Alert: NYSDOH Warns of Increase in Opioid Related Deaths in Central NY; Naloxone Available Without a Prescription; Help and Resources Available

(Ithaca, NY, September 13, 2022) - The Tompkins County Health Department is alerting the community about the increase in opioid related deaths in the Central New York region, as recently reported by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

There have been 12 reported drug-related deaths in Tompkins County as of June 2022, aligned with trends noted locally over the past 5 years.  In 2017, 22 overdose deaths were reported in Tompkins County, decreasing to 17 deaths in 2019. In 2020, overdose deaths increased to 19 and further increased to 25 total overdose deaths in 2021.

Based on 911 call data for the start of 2022, 25 overdose calls have been reported this year, 67 overdose calls were made in 2021, and 31 calls in 2020. Overdoses reported in these calls do not always result in death but do provide information about the volume of related calls and of Naloxone (Narcan) use and availability.

Multiple factors affect the rate of overdose in our community, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic beginning in 2020 and the presence of fentanyl, a highly addictive synthetic substance that is added into illicit street drugs to increase consumption and is highly associated with risk of overdose death. Risk of overdose is increased when fentanyl is mixed in with other substances, an issue that is increasingly found with the purchase of illicit street drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and illicitly manufactured pills, including benzodiazepines and other psychostimulants like Molly and MDMA.

Harmful side effects of fentanyl include sedation, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, pupillary constriction, and respiratory depression. Signs of overdose include stupor, changes in pupillary size (pinpoint size pupils), cold and clammy skin, cyanosis (blue discoloration of the skin), coma and respiratory failure leading to death.

NYS DOH has announced a statewide pharmacy standing order for Naloxone (Narcan), which is a medication that can be easily administered to block the effects of opioids. Providers, the public, and family members of those suffering with addiction are encouraged to obtain naloxone from a pharmacy or community agency. Individuals will need to have insurance to access this standing order at no cost in a pharmacy. Pharmacies will bill insurance through the Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program (N-CAP) to cover fees and co-payments.

If you do not have insurance, call 2-1-1 (1-877-211-8667) to receive assistance. Narcan kits are available for free at local community agencies that provide free Narcan training to educate community members in its use to prevent an overdose from becoming a death. Schedule a Narcan training or request kits by contacting the Alcohol & Drug Council, Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services, REACH Medical or the Southern Tier AIDS Program. Fentanyl testing strips are available at the Southern Tier AIDS Program, REACH Medical, and at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services. To learn more about other available prevention services, visit:

To protect yourself or those you care about, the following overdose prevention strategies are recommended:

Community partners also provide a wide variety of services to support those in need. The Alcohol and Drug Council offers a variety of education programs, counseling services and treatment options, including Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services offers intensive residential and out-patient treatment services, as well as a specific Opioid Treatment Program and MAT. REACH Medical also provides a wide range of medical and behavioral health services, including MAT, available to anyone in the community, regardless of ability to pay. To find other available treatment programs throughout the state, use the NYS Office of Addiction Services & Supports online directory.

Community-based support groups are available for individuals to help navigate your personal recovery, as well as for friends and families affected by their loved one’s substance use. NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports hosts HOPEline, a 24/7 helpline to call or text for support. Call 1-877-8-HOPENY (467369) or Text HOPENY (467369) for immediate assistance.

The 9-8-8 Lifeline call service is also available, 24/7, to speak confidentially with mental health professionals about your concerns; just dial 9-8-8 to connect with this support. Need help finding help? Dial 2-1-1 (1.877.211.8667) for supportive, local referrals and resource connections.

Tompkins County Public Health Director and Mental Health Commissioner Frank Kruppa stated, “We are advising the community about the risk of fentanyl in street drugs as an effort to promote harm reduction. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous. If you are buying street drugs, please test for fentanyl, carry Narcan and never use alone. If you desire to seek support to reduce your use of street drugs, please reach out for support to the program of your choice.”

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports hosts a new “Project COPE” website, which promotes overdose prevention and harm reduction education in New York State. The goal of this initiative is to empower people to learn how to prevent overdoses and save lives in their community. The website can be accessed by visiting

Resources are readily available in Tompkins County. Learn more about local opioid statistics and additional resources online at:

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at, and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth. Sign up to receive COVID-19 updates or other county announcements via email or text.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord,