August 26, 2022

Oneida County Overdose Response Team Issues Spike Alert

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Five Fatalities Have Occurred in August

The Oneida County Overdose Response Team has issued an overdose spike alert triggered by four overdoses in the past 24 hours, one of which was fatal.

The overdoses, which occurred in Utica and Rome, involved heroin and other opioids, including the synthetic fentanyl, which was the cause of the fatality. In the month of August, there have been five overdose deaths, three of which occurred in the past five days.

“Illicit and deceptive drugs made of fentanyl are taking lives at an unprecedented rate and it is being found in any street drug you can name,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Fentanyl has changed the game in a frightening way – it’s a highly toxic and dangerous drug that can take a life in a moment’s notice – three known deaths in just five days is proof of that and it only takes one time.”

The Overdose Response Team (ORT) is also alerting the public to a potentially dangerous drug trend involving what has been described as purple, pink and/or blue colored substances contributing to overdoses and at least one confirmed fatality.

This trend of colorful substances or a drug cocktail known as “purple heroin” appears to be a mixture of street drugs, including fentanyl, and continues to be reported locally and throughout the region. It is associated with increased overdoses and overdose deaths. The ORT has also received reports of what is described as a “pink substance” in connection with heroin, fentanyl and molly (MDMA), a synthetic drug that is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens.

Fentanyl and other potent fentanyl analogues are virtually indistinguishable when mixed with other drugs including methamphetamines, heroin, MDMA and cocaine, and is even pressed into counterfeit “prescription” pills. Drug traffickers mix it with other drugs to make it stronger and to increase their drug supply because it’s cheap and easy to make. Illegal fentanyl is often made in clandestine labs with no interest in quality or safety control.

Individuals seeking treatment, Naloxone (Narcan), and other harm reduction supplies, can contact any Oneida County Opioid Task Force member agency listed on the Task Force’s website at:

The Oneida County Health Department also has a “Narcan by Mail” program for individuals that features a short training video online on recognizing and responding to signs of overdose and a confidential form to have Narcan sent to their home or business. The program can be found at

The Good Samaritan Law protects anyone calling 911 from repercussions in the case of an overdose.

Oneida County Partners