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Opioid deaths fell slightly locally last year

Jul 24, 2019 12:58 am
Bethany Bump reports in the Albany Times Union that opioid overdoses in the Capital Region declined slighlty for the first time in years, according to new data from state and county sources. Columbia County had six opioid deaths last year compared to 19 in 2017. In Greene County, there was one fewer death, 12 in 2018 instead of the 13 in 2017. Rensselaer County deaths also fell, from 25 to 18, while the numbers rose in Albany County from 40 to 55 last year, and from one to two in Schoharie County. In Columbia County, officials did not return a request for comment about the large drop in opioid deaths last year. The story did mention the program of Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann, who has turned opioid users in for treatment for their underlying addiction instead of arresting people for possession. Schenectady police announced recently they will start a similar program. Stephen Giordano, director of Albany County's Department of Mental Health. noted that the numbers are so small it is hard to draw firm conclusions. But experts believe that more naloxone available to help with opioid overdoses and medication-assisted treatment for addiction may be a reason for the drop in overdose deaths. "I remember five years ago sitting with our local treatment providers and saying, look, we've got to follow the science," Giordano said. "MAT saves lives and we weren't doing it here." Read more about this story in the Albany Times Union.