opioid epidemic

file photo / WAER News

It’s been a little over a year since an emergency court was set up in Onondaga County to treat those addicted to opioids.  WAER News checked in with the judge overseeing the cases to find out how it’s going.

John Smith/WAER News

Nearly half of the more than 18,000 calls to the Upstate Poison Control Center in 2019 were about kids six and younger who had unintentional drug poisonings from medicine.  The hospital is using grant funding to provide nearly 1,000 affected families with medication lock boxes before they leave the hospital.

Governor Cuomo's flickr page

Calling it an “industry wide conspiracy,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to file a lawsuit for the over prescription of opioids that he says has defrauded  New Yorkers out of  billions of dollars.

file photo

Central New York’s rural counties are among some of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, so the state senate is bringing its task force to Madison County Monday to focus on the challenges facing outlying communities.  One of those attending the roundtable discussion is Susan Jenkins, Executive Director of BRiDGES, the Madison County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.  She says what might work in cities doesn’t always make sense in the country.


Surgeons from three Central New York hospitals are among 18 across Upstate who are collaborating with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield to reduce the number of unnecessary opioid pills prescribed after certain surgeries.  The idea is to reduce the risk of opioid misuse that could turn into an addiction. 

Dr. Renato M

Managing Chronic Pain

Jun 11, 2019

With about 2 million Americans suffering from opioid addiction, the nation’s healthcare system has tried to perform an extraordinary balancing act – help patients who suffer from chronic pain while also aggressively combating the opioid epidemic.  

Scott Willis/WAER News

An investigation that began over a year ago in St. Lawrence County culminated Thursday morning with the indictment of 65 people as part of two drug rings in central and upstate New York.  Attorney General Letitia James says they trafficked heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine through Onondaga, Oneida, and other counties from sources in New York City and New Jersey.  James says surveillance techniques were instrumental in finding those connected to the operation.

Fentanyl "Scanners" Could Help Protect CNY Police from Lethal Drug

Feb 20, 2019
Scott Willis / WAER News

Law enforcement in Onondaga County might soon have access to a new tool to detect Fentanyl. The very powerful and addictive drug is often laced with other drugs such as heroin, crystal meth, oxycontin and others to give addicts a stronger high. Senator Chuck Schumer says the device is similar to a hand-held scanner.

“It can detect not only fentanyl but 30 other drugs. And it’s so sensitive, that it can actually detect fentanyl that’s in a pill container. So that’s the great news. The bad news is, they cost about $80,000 each.”

Scott Willis / WAER News

SUNY Upstate Medical University has joined the process of developing a vaccine that could help address the ongoing heroin epidemic.  Scientists here are working in conjunction with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research using a $3.7 million grant to conduct clinical trials. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

At 2:30 Thursday afternoon, the first three defendants appeared before a judge in what amounts to a new emergency court aimed at quickly helping those addicted to opioids.   The focus  of the Syracuse Opioid Intervention Court is on treatment rather than sending people to prison.