News 12/Newsday special report: Opioid overdose deaths on LI at all-time high
Opioid overdose deaths on Long Island are at an all-time high, new data shows.
Newsday reports that data gathered from the medical examiners' offices in Nassau and Suffolk put the death toll at almost 500.
Suffolk County saw 303 opioid deaths last year, and Nassau County saw 190. The figures do not include 85 pending cases in Suffolk.
A leading cause for the spike is the painkiller fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin.
Jeff Reynolds, of the Family and Children's Association, says he believes the numbers don't include Long Islanders who seek rehab in other states and die from overdoses.
"This has to be treated like a public health emergency," Reynolds says.
Those who work with recovering addicts say the problem is beds: rehab centers just don't have enough space to meet the increasing demand.
"When you tell someone there is a two-week waiting list, that person can die in those two weeks. We need more beds to be available," says drug counselor Tatiana Green.
Emergency responders say that in 2016, they saved more than 700 overdose victims with the opioid-antidote drug Narcan.