AUBURN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — For the past two years, Cayuga County has been taking part in a national study, tracking opioid overdoses in real time. It’s called the HEALing Communities Study and the team is now in its third year of data collection.
Recently, they’ve noticed an alarming trend in young teens and children. Within the last year, Cayuga County has seen a major increase in overdoses in teens and young children. From 2019 to now, those numbers have tripled.
Monika Salvage, the director of the program, said kids are grabbing anything they can find at home and intentionally harming themselves. It may not be illicit drugs, but it ranges from over-the-counter drugs like Advil to prescription pills. Salvage said they’re seeing this in kids as young as 11.
On top of that, the number of completed suicides throughout the county has doubled since the start of the pandemic.
This data is something the county has never had access to before. In real-time, they’re able to see who is overdosing, what they’re using, and where.
Salvage worries this is only the tip of the iceberg because the pandemic has made matters worse.
“That it can happen really to anybody, to anybody’s child, anybody’s family member, friend,” Salvage said. “And I think one of the best things that we can do as a community overall is reduce the stigma around having any substance use issue.”
Salvage said parents should make sure all of their drugs, whether over the counter or prescribed, need to be locked away out of sight from their children. It never hurts to have Narcan nasal spray on hand, because you never know when opioids are involved.
Anyone in Cayuga County can get that nasal spray for free by clicking here.
For anyone who is suffering from opioid use disorder, there are several local resources in Cayuga County. Here is a list of them, below.
Nick’s Ride 4 Friends, (315) 246-6485
Cayuga County Community Mental Health Center, (315) 253-0341
CHAD (Confidential Help for Alcohol and Drugs), (315) 253-9786
SRS (Syracuse Recovery Services) , (315) 282-5351