TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Overdoses and drug use increased nationwide since the beginning of the pandemic. In Rensselaer County, health officials are calling the spike a crisis.

“It’s alarming to us the number of overdoses that are happening in our county and we’re really trying to get that awareness out there, get people to treatment,” Mary Fran Wachunas, Public Health Director and Co-Chair of the Rensselaer County Heroin Coalition, said.

According to Wachunas, over 170 people overdosed on opioids since 2019 county-wide with numbers continuing to increase every year. So far in 2022, the county has seen 37 opioid overdoses.

The Rensselaer County Heroin Coalition began in 2016 and meets every six weeks to discuss prevention and treatment of the health crisis. A session on October 26 included Narcan training and emphasis on the “Nalaxone Now” program available locally.

“Narcan is what’s going to save people and give them another chance at life to make decisions to stop using,” Wachunas said. Wachunas believes widespread training and availability of Narcan will help prevent overdoses and make substance abuse resources more available to people in need.

“We did have the numbers down before COVID but they’ve really increased a lot so we have to get the community aware of what’s going on,” Wachunas said. More resources can be found on the county website.