November “largest spike ever” of heroin-related overdose deaths in York County

SPRINGETTSBURY TOWNSHIP, P.A. --- Since November 1, there have been 16 suspected heroin-related deaths in York County.

There were six related deaths in the first three weeks in September and, similarly, seven in October.

Pam Gay, York County Coroner, said it's the "largest spike" in heroin-related overdose deaths in the county ever.

"This year has definitely been worse for heroin-related overdose deaths than what we've seen in the prior three years of this epidemic," said Gay.

In 2017, Gay said York County already has 92 confirmed heroin-related deaths with another 31 suspected heroin-related deaths.

Gay said there is one common culprit in nearly all of the overdose deaths the county: street fentanyl.

"Fentanyl is so much more potent than heroin by itself. So when you mix it or you just use fentanyl that doesn't have heroin in it, you're definitely setting yourself up to die," said Gay.

She also said some of the deaths over the past few weeks have been in the same area, primarily around the city.

She said officials keep information on the locations quiet due to fears addicts will actually seek out the same drugs.

"Even though they know that they could die, the desire for the drug supersedes everything," said Gay.

Vickie Glatfelter, President and CEO of Not One More, lost her son to a fentanyl overdose in Bucks County three years ago.

She's said she's seen, first hand, the extent a loved one will go to get what she calls "the ultimate high."

She said a text sent by her son a week a girl he knew died from an overdose suggested just that.

"Quote unquote, as i found out after my son passed, he had texted someone a couple days before saying this girl can get killer bags," said Glatfelter.

Glatfelter said she think fentanyl is creating such as problem because users don't know what they're buying, saying her son thought he was buying heroin and got pure fentanyl, instead.

She also said she believes the spike in overdose deaths in York County is due to a growing recovery community.

"It's the easiest time for them to relapse, it's the easiest time for them to overdose. They're at that very vulnerable state," said Glatfelter.

With the holiday season coming around, Glatfelter and Gay said to be mindful of any loved ones who are battling addiction.

They recommend limiting alcohol or prescription drug use in a family setting to avoid creating a potential relapse situation.

Glatfelter said common signs of drug use in a person include different friend groups, nodding off during conversations, less sociable, lack in hygiene, agitation, lack of motivation.

She also says to look out for missing cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, tin foil, small pieces of paper, folded paper, corners of baggies, as well as broken pens.

She said these can all be "tools" of abuse.

For more information on Not One More York Chapter, visit the link here.