New York State Sees Rise in Opioid Deaths | News, Sports, Jobs

Opioid overdose deaths in New York rose 14% from 2020 to 2021, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services announced this week.

Excluding New York City, there were 2,671 opioid overdoses that resulted in death in 2021. Of these, 47 have been documented in Chautauqua County and 12 in Cattaraugus County.

In the first half of 2022, there have been 22 fatal opioid overdoses in Chautauqua County, including nine in Cattaraugus County, according to current information released in a quarterly report this week.

“The opioid epidemic continues to affect us all, as Americans and New Yorkers,” said dr James McDonald, Acting Commissioner for the State Department of Health. “Overdose deaths continue to rise nationally and locally, and data can help inform and drive local solutions to this complex public health crisis.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids are a class of drugs that includes heroin as well as powerful pain relievers such as oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl. When used, opioids can produce an intense euphoria or high that can lead to dependency and addiction.

According to the state health department, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin and has contributed to a rise in opioid overdose deaths in recent years. Fentanyl is implicated in most overdose deaths in upstate New York today.

CDC information released last year found that the number of opioid overdose deaths in the United States rose to 80,816 in 2021 from an estimated 70,029 in 2020. Synthetic opioid overdose deaths also continued to increase in 2021 compared to 2020.

Key findings when comparing New York state totals for 2021 and 2020 dates include the following:

¯ 14% increase in opioid-related overdose deaths, with 4,766 deaths in 2021.

¯ 12.6% increase in outpatient emergency department visits for opioid overdoses, with 10,430 visits in 2021.

¯ 30.2% increase in outpatient emergency department visits for non-heroin opioid overdoses, including illicitly manufactured opioids such as fentanyl, with 5,137 visits in 2021.

¯ 11.8% increase in encounters with naloxone administration in emergency services, with 19,139 in 2021.


In 2021, opioid overdoses resulted in 173 emergency room visits in Chautauqua County. For the first half of 2022, 95 local emergency department visits were reported to the state health department.

Of the overdoses registered in 2021, 21 people in the county had to be hospitalized. Information on hospital admissions due to opioid overdoses was not available last year.

The state’s quarterly report also notes that naloxone, a drug used to quickly reverse an opioid overdose, was administered 165 times in 2021 by emergency services and law enforcement personnel.

“Fentanyl, a powerful and deadly opioid, continues to be found in street drugs of all kinds and continues to cause overdoses and deaths in our communities.” County Executive PJ Wendel said last month. “At the same time, numerous individuals and agencies in our county are working to fight addiction and reduce drug overdoses, and we are grateful for their life-saving efforts.”

Steve Kilburn, grant projects director for the Department of Mental Health, noted that the county has many services and providers for individuals and families struggling with addiction.

Details and contact information for these resources are available at in addition to the county’s Crisis Hotline at 1-800-724-0461, which provides free confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by behavioral coordinators and health professionals.

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