Sheriff: 25 overdose deaths in 2017, 60 toxicology reports pending

VOORHEESVILLE, N.Y. -- According to Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, the county has confirmed 25 overdose deaths so far this year. There are 60 pending toxicology reports, which means that number could rise.

"So potentially, 85 overdose deaths as a result of this opioid epidemic, just since January 1 to present day,"  Apple said.

Apple says those figures have continued to increase over the years at an alarming rate. That's why he says it's important to constantly remind the public that the heroin and opioid epidemic is far from over.

In order to keep that conversation going, the sheriff's office sponsored a town hall meeting Wednesday night at Voorheesville High School. Joining the discussion included members from Catholic Charities, the state office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse and The Addictions Care Center of Albany.

"It affects every one of us some way, somehow," said Jennifer Vitkus of the Addictions Care Center.

Officials say new legislation has assisted in the fight to stop the epidemic, but they say more bills need to be passed like Laree’s Law. It would allow large-scale heroin dealers to be charged with a homicide if the person they sell the drug to dies from an overdose.

Those in attendance also received training on Narcan, which is an overdose reversal drug. Officials say knowing how to use Narcan can mean the difference between life and death.

"We’re cops. We know how to do the enforcement part of it," Apple said. "But getting these folks and throwing them in jail isn’t going to solve the problem."

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