ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A new report from the NYS Department of Health finds overdose deaths increased by 14% from 2020. In Albany County, there were 82 overdose deaths from pain relievers and illegally produced opioids like fentanyl.

CEO of the Addictions Care Center of Albany Keith Stack said more people are seeking treatment for opioid addiction, but fentanyl presents an increasing danger. “The real villain in this situation is fentanyl and what’s kind of scary is how available it is and the volume everywhere and it’s ending up in every different type of substance,” he said.

The report also found an increase in emergency department visits due to opioid overdoses, especially concerning fentanyl. More first responders also used naloxone, a drug that combats opioid overdoses as they happen. 

Stack said the increased use of and access to naloxone is key to addressing the epidemic. “It is a real defense against overdose and it does save lives,” he said. “One of the concerns though is that sometimes it’s not as effective with a fentanyl experience so you have to use multiple doses of it.”

In the report, the Department of Health said that it plans to advance syringe exchange programs that give people with opioid addiction access to safety plans, naloxone, and other drugs that can treat opioid abuse. Stack said the solutions to the epidemic need to include widespread education and community collaboration on the dangers of fentanyl and opioid abuse.

“We have to—everyone as a community, law enforcement, educators, treatment providers, government officials—we just have to really keep pushing the message out.”