Key Foster / Flickr

The Onondaga County Drug Task Force continues to look for ways to keep prescription drugs out of the wrong hands. A new pilot program launched this month will place them in the hands of police.

Nine police agencies, including the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, are putting out collection bins in their offices for unused prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as used needles.

Gail Banach, of the Upstate New York Poison Center, says the idea is to create a safe place to drop drugs that otherwise could be abused.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Democrats in the New York State Assembly have come through with some cash for Crouse Hospital in Syracuse to help fund its opioid and heroin abuse program.  

The majority conference is committing $400,000 to Crouse, which runs the only methadone program in the region. It’s struggling to keep up with demand spurred by the recent spike in heroin and opiate addiction across the country and in central New York. Right now the program serves 600 patients; another 500 are on a waiting list. The hospital treats patients who are from the Southern Tier to the North Country.

Michelle Faust / WXXI


Deaths from drug overdose have outpaced automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury in 35 states, including New York. But the state is making strides to curtail that trend. Physicians are integral to treating addiction, but the country has a shortage of doctors with training in the specialty.

Tom Magnarelli


Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is cosponsoring a bill called the TREAT Act in Congress that would increase the number of patients that medical practitioners can prescribe medication for treatment of drug abuse from 30 to 100. Katko held a public meeting in Oswego to address the recent rise in heroin addictions in central New York.


  Waiting lists for treatment of opioid addiction continue to grow in central New York. That’s why local addiction experts are hoping proposed federal legislation that could help the situation becomes law.  

Monika Taylor, director of behavioral health services at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse says Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, can be key to someone getting off their addiction to opioids -- heroin or prescription painkillers.

PunchingJudy / Flickr

In the last six months, New York state has trained 10,000 laypeople to use Narcan, a drug that can save a person from death after an overdose of opioids like heroin or prescription pain killers. Local emergency medical technicians say they are behind the move, if people are properly trained.

This week, a bipartisan team of New York state senators announced a round of four hearings around the state addressing the heroin epidemic.  The state poison control center received 255 calls about toxic exposures to heroin throughout upstate New York state last year. 82 of those toxic exposures were from Onondaga County.

State senators are turning to police, doctors, and their constituents for proposed solutions to the increase in deaths from opioid overdoses.

Why heroin use has become an epidemic

May 30, 2014

Use of the illegal narcotic heroin is on the rise across the nation and in New York state. In the last decade, the number of people hooked on heroin is estimated to have doubled. And it is claiming lives from actor Philip Seymour Hoffman to SUNY Oswego students. This week on WRVO's health and wellness show "Take Care," Hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen, speak with The New York Times reporter J. David Goodman, who has reported extensively on the causes and effects of the heroin epidemic.

Lorraine Rapp: Why do you think there is a rise in heroin use? What’s behind that?

Abuse of heroin and opioids is something that often starts in adolescence, according to SUNY Upstate Medical Center addiction expert Dr. Brian Johnson. He said the illegal drug industry begins targeting middle schoolers, so they become addicted by the time they’re out of high school.

“The industry wants to recruit children,” Johnson said. “It’s a pediatric disease. By the time some of these kids get to college, the college [health care providers] say they’ve had this addiction for several years and it’s entrenched.”

He said one way to deal with this is to be more aware.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A spate of heroin overdoses last week in Syracuse has created a more urgent tone for one community organization’s program meant to fight overdoses. The Opioid Overdose Prevention Program run by ACR Health in Syracuse hopes to prevent stories like this in the future.

Last week the Food and Drug Administration approved a prescription device that can inject a fast acting antidote to heroin and other opioid drugs. It’s the latest response to a surge in opioid abuse. Heroin use has doubled between 2007 and 2012, and it’s no longer just an urban street drug; it’s now common in small town America.

For almost 40 of his 54 years, Jerry Jones has done drugs.

"At an early age, started with pot, drinking," Jones said. "It wasn't long after that where I started using other drugs, cocaine, speed, acid. I've done every drug under the sun."

Crouse Hospital

A spike in heroin and prescription painkiller abuse in central New York is the reason behind the expansion of a program that helps addicts.

Crouse Hospital in Syracuse says it’s expanding its opioid program, the only one in the area, in response to a community need for methadone treatment. Monica Taylor, director of behavior health at Crouse, says it won’t happen overnight.