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Pandemic contributing to rise in opioid overdose deaths



The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the U.S. has seen record numbers of opioid overdose deaths over the past year. That increase is also happening locally.

Sam Peterson struggled with opioid addiction for years. Noloxone helped save his life from an overdose.

“I could fairly easily be a statistic,” Peterson said. “And I’m truly glad today that I’m not. But there was a time in my addiction that I didn’t care whether I lived or died.”

Now that he’s sober, he mentors others battling addiction. Kaitlyn Krolikowski, director of the Purchase Area Health Connections Opioid Taskforce, said the pandemic is playing a role in rising opioid overdoses.

“Economic insecurity, stress, loss, access to care. You know, everything moving over to telehealth, some people really just can’t access telehealth that well.” Krolikowski said. “And that’s something that you see across the nation. It’s not just something locally.”

Some of the ways the Opioid Taskforce is working to prevent overdose deaths is by providing Narcan (the brand name version of naloxone), fentanyl test strips, and Deterra bags. The bags allow people to safely dispose of their prescription medications.

Peterson wants people to know that if you’re battling addiction, there is help available and you can get through it.

Data from the Graves County Needle Exchange shows they’ve had an increase in requests for fentanyl test strips. The strips are used to identify the presence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in unregulated drugs.

Krolikowski said if you’re in need of Narcan, contact her at the Purchase District Health Department, and someone from the taskforce can help you access it. You can also email her at