An uptick in overdoses and a dangerous trend involving non-opioid drugs containing fentanyl has led the Oneida County Overdose Response Team to issue a public health alert.

The Overdose Response Team is reporting four overdoses over a 24-hour time period on August 10 in Utica, Rome and Durhamville.

Officials say there is a persistent issue with drugs like cocaine, molly and methamphetamines being laced with powerful opioids like fentanyl.

They say while the issue is prevalent throughout the county, recent reports show a concentration in the western parts.

“Over the last three weeks we have seen several cases of near fatal overdose in the Oneida Emergency Department,” said Dr. Kirby Black, Director of Emergency Medicine at Oneida Health. “They have required a large amount of naloxone to be revived.  The trend we are seeing is that they are people who did not think they were taking an opioid.  They thought they were taking synthetic marijuana, cocaine, molly or methamphetamine.  Many have been extremely close calls, some requiring admission to the ICU for naloxone drips.”

In addition, there are growing reports countywide of severe illnesses and overdoses involving synthetic marijuana.

In some overdoses, Narcan was successfully administered, indicating that the synthetic marijuana was likely contaminated with fentanyl or another opioid.

“Synthetic marijuana is often contaminated with various manmade chemicals that can compound its dangerous effects, so it is extremely disturbing to see growing evidence that this product, in addition to other drugs, is also being laced with fentanyl,” said Daniel Gilmore,Oneida County Director of Health. “And, it is especially concerning when we know that the main drug responsible for taking lives in our community is fentanyl.”

In 2020, 70 percent of drug-related fatalities in Oneida County were fentanyl-related

Year-to-date in 2021, over 80 percent of Oneida County’s drug-related toxicology results show the presence of fentanyl.

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