Gabe Altieri / WSKG

Broome County is launching a program to get treatment for people at risk of an opioid overdose. It’s called the Peer Response Team. It works with law enforcement, hospitals and social services around Broome County. The idea is to better connect people at risk of an overdose to the services they need.

Pennsylvania is making more treatment available for people dealing with addiction to heroin or other opioids. So-called Centers of Excellence have started to open, and more are expected to start operating in January. The centers are located at clinics that are already running in the midstate - from TW Ponessa in Lancaster to Pennsylvania Counseling Services in Chambersburg. 

(WRVO) The number of heroin-related overdoses continues to rise in upstate, including in central New York. Now one agency that helps addicts is putting more emphasis on a harm-reduction technique called a “test shot.” 

Ben Allen, WITF

On Tuesday, Governor Wolf addressed a joint session of the House and Senate to talk about the opioid crisis. But his speech is just the start. What's next? Three proposals seem to be generating the most controversy. 

Recently, paramedics have been carefully approaching the scene of a heroin overdose. They fear they'll come in contact with heroin mixed with a tranquilizer often used on large animals. Emergency responders have already encountered carfentanil in western Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan

@polsifter / Flickr

Tracy Helton Mitchell is a recovering heroin addict. She’s also the author of the book The Big Fix: Hope After Heroin and has been featured in the New York Times and on Fresh Air

Pamela Post

This story is part of the WSKG News special The Rush: Digging Into Addiction.


KellyELambertPhotography / Flickr

It’s hard to take care of a new baby, especially if you’re trying to get sober from heroin addiction. Marisa, who didn't want to use her last name, gave birth to one daughter while she was using, then another while she was in treatment at a long-term care facility in Sullivan County*, New Hope Manor.

The nation's opioid problem comes with staggering physical and emotional costs to patients and families. But the financial burden on the health system has been harder to peg.

A report set to be released Tuesday shows a more than thirteenfold increase in spending by health insurers in a four-year period on patients with a diagnosis of opioid dependence or abuse.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News


Brenda Vanderpool's son is addicted to heroin. She said the drug nearly killed him, twice. Vanderpool said she also lost a friend this week to synthetic marijuana. 

Pennsylvania's program to monitor how often people are receiving powerful painkillers is close to its debut. But there's concerns the effort could lead to other problems. Pennsylvania is one of the last states in the U.S. to get a prescription drug monitoring program

Ellen Abbott, WRVO

Onondaga County started a program this week at the Onondaga County Justice Center and the Jamesville Corrections Facility aimed at helping opioid addicts stay clean after they are released from jail. Now, some inmates who are also addicts will be offered a medication that takes away their craving for drugs.

Ellen Abbott, WRVO

The number of heroin and opioid overdoses continues to rise in central New York. According to the latest figures from the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office, there have been 30 overdose deaths to date in 2016, compared with 52 all of last year.  The opioid epidemic is also starting to affect some of the agencies that deal with people addicted to heroin.

Ellen Abbott, WRVO

(WRVO) W-18, a new synthetic opioid, may be on the scene in central and northern New York. ACR Health prevention director Erin Bortel said several overdose deaths in the North Country have raised suspicions. 

(WXXI) New York State is taking steps to address the illegal sale of  "K2”  and other synthetic drugs after a surge of overdoses in New York City. But those drugs are also causing problems in Upstate New York.

Ellen Abbott, WRVO

(WRVO) Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) Friday joined local families and professionals who deal with the opioid epidemic to applaud passage of a sweeping piece of federal legislation meant to deal with that crisis.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News


A recent change from the federal government raised the limit on how many addiction patients a doctor can treat with a particular drug. But one area doctor warns it’s not a silver bullet.

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

The bill, which had previously passed the House, will now be sent to President Obama. He has indicated that he will sign it, despite concerns that it doesn't provide enough funding.


Governor Cuomo recently signed into law a legislative package aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic in New York state. The laws passed will help remove some of the barriers that can prevent those in need from getting help, and will ramp up prevention efforts by limiting the number of days a doctor can prescribe opioids and expand community education efforts.

NYS OASAS / Flickr


Among the recommendations of Governor Cuomo’s heroin task force are a few ideas to improve access to treatment.


(WXXI) Limited opioid prescriptions, greater funding for addiction treatment and more support for people trying to stay clean: those are some of the proposals for attacking New York's heroin and opioid problem released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday. 

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News




Getting insurance coverage for addiction treatment is a huge area of concern for families. In the current opioid epidemic, there’s a deep divide between what companies say is medically necessary and the kind of treatment patients--and their families--want.


The list of potential solutions to the opioid crisis that has killed thousands of Pennsylvanians is long, and many state lawmakers are interested in addressing the crisis. For their part, the Wolf administration is pushing a new proposal to treat people who are already addicted to heroin or other drugs.

Tom Magnarelli, WRVO

(WRVO) Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to know what New Yorkers think the state can do to address the heroin and opioid epidemic. Hochul is traveling with a drug task force panel across the state, listening to local experts share their experiences.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News

Broome Co. Executive Debbie Preston got specific today on the destination of the state money Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday: staff who help people entering addiction treatment, and who help their families work through the complicated red tape that accompanies insurance and addiction treatment. 

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

Marie Cusick / WITF

The opioid epidemic has hit every part of Pennsylvania - with increased use of powerful drugs like heroin, OxyContin, and Percocet. Governor Tom Wolf's administration has been trying to get a handle on the next steps needed with roundtable discussions across the state.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

(WRVO) Abuse of a common over-the-counter drug is the latest side effect of the heroin epidemic.Loperamide, more commonly known by the brand name Imodium, is used by most people to treat diarrhea. 

Tom Magnarelli, WRVO

(WRVO) Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines on how doctors prescribe opioids for chronic pain. Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican Rep. John Katko want to see those guidelines pushed even further.