CANTON, New York (WWNY) – After eight drug overdoses in 24 hours, St. Lawrence County officials are warning residents that any illegal drugs they take could contain fentanyl or xylazine.
One of the overdoses was fatal, officials say.
The warning came Thursday in a joint statement from the county’s sheriff’s office and its public health, addiction services, and emergency services departments.
“This is very abnormal. It’s a first for our county to have this many overdoses in one night,” said St. Lawrence County Public Health Director Jolene Munger.
According to public health, most of the overdoses stemmed from a batch of cocaine laced with fentanyl. But in a first for the county, some were the result of marijuana that had also been laced with fentanyl.
“If you think you’re going to a store to purchase marijuana and you think it’s going to be safe because you purchased it from a store, you still do not know what you are buying because they are not licensed by the state,” said Munger.
But for those who will use no matter what, health officials recommend testing drugs, and they’ve made resources available to help combat overdoses.
“We have fentanyl test strips available through the St. Lawrence County Addiction Services and Seaway Valley Prevention Council as well as Narcan,” said Munger.
Three to five doses of Narcan, a drug that reduces the effects of an overdose, were used on several of the overdose victims.
Narcan works for overdoses involving opioids, such as heroin or fentanyl, but not with xylazine, which is not an opioid.
Either drug, officials warn, could be added in lethal amounts to heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and other drugs.
Narcan can be found in dispensers in pretty much any county building with public access. It’s free and it can save lives.
“And if you do apply and use Narcan outside of a medical setting, make sure you’re still seeking that medical attention,” said Munger.
County District Attorney Gary Pasqua says the next step for law enforcement is to track down where the bad batches came from. But it won’t be easy.
“When you have individuals who survive the overdose, if they’re not willing to cooperate or provide information from where it came, a lot of times you hit a dead end,” he said.
St. Lawrence County Addiction Services provides walk-in training for harm reduction and the use of Narcan.
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