Winn: 26 Washington County drug overdose deaths in year; 39, Saratoga Co.; at least 10 in Warren; says supervisors must address it

Dear Editor:

According to CDC statistics ( overdose.htm ), the provisional number for drug overdose deaths in Washington County for the 12 month period ending December 2022 was 26.

In Saratoga County, there were 39 deaths in 2022. Warren County reported 10 overdose deaths during this period, although this figure appears to be incomplete. For the Tri-County area, 75 deaths is a staggering number, particularly since such deaths are preventable and it can be assumed that victims are most likely younger in age.

An honest review of the CDC statistics would lead to the conclusion that such death toll is a trend and not an anomalous statistical blip. However, other than gross numbers, little information is disseminated to the public.

Are the deaths resulting from heroin usage? Are these overdose deaths the result of fentanyl-laced drugs? Are these deaths clustered in a few communities? What is the age of the victims?

Are the victims long-term residents of the respective communities? Did the victims have long-term drug problems? Were the victims in treatment, etc? Most importantly, where are these drugs leading to overdoses being acquired?

As a first step, I believe that the Board of Supervisors in all three counties should request that the Sheriffs of each County to brief the Boards with the best information available to law enforcement so as to advise the public as to the general circumstances of these overdoses. If the Boards are provided with information as to the exact nature of the problem, perhaps a path toward a solution could be devised.

In the past, there have always been drug overdoses in this area, although relatively few in number.

However, the current numbers are shocking and, insofar as the respective Board of Supervisors are in charge of local government and an action plan would require coordination of efforts with law enforcement agencies, coroners, social services departments, mental health provides, and the probation departments, the Board of Supervisors must take the lead in this regard immediately.

An effort has to be taken to reduce this death toll which is constantly mounting. There should be no delay.

— Robert M. Winn, Attorney at Law
Granville, NY

Editor’s note: Mr. Winn was Washington County District Attorney from 1990 through 2005.

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