Decline in opioid fatalities in Ulster County, Ryan says

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KINGSTON – Opioid-related fatalities in Ulster County have dropped by 41.1 percent in 2019 when compared to the previous year, county officials said Tuesday.

In 2019, there were 33 opioid-related deaths compared to 56 in 2018. Opioid-related deaths in the county had increased by 345 percent since 2010, culminating in 2018 with the second-highest per-capita rate of opioid fatalities of any county in the state.

“This sharp reduction in opioid fatalities is a sign that the steps we have taken to combat this public health crisis are working,” said County Executive Patrick Ryan. “Even with this good news we still have plenty of work to do. This is an issue that I take extremely seriously and we will continue to work with our many partners to continue to raise awareness and work to save lives.”

The county’s 2020 budget provided additional money to the sheriff’s office to support the ORACLE program. The funds help provide two new officers who support an overdose response team that includes a plainclothes officer, a mental health professional, and a peer advocate that will respond within 72 hours to meet with individuals who have suffered an overdose.

The county also started implementing a $2.5 million, three-year-long grant designed to identify and close the gaps in the current prevention and treatment system.