The chief medical investigator at the Monroe County Medical Examiner's office is urging people to be their own advocate when it comes to pain management.
Bob Zerby, whose job includes the oversight of field investigations and autopsies, has witnessed firsthand the surge in heroin and opioid-related deaths in recent years. Death is the great equalizer, he says, but there is no one profile of an opioid or heroin user.
"There are no boundaries - rich or poor, inner city or suburban, black or white - it doesn't matter. It's everybody."
Monroe County’s Heroin Task Force reported 112 heroin overdoses and 17 deaths in 2018 as of the first week of February.
Zerby recommends that people educate themselves about the use of medications to control pain so they don't become dependent on them.
"If a doctor says, 'We're going to send you home with these big pain killers,' ask if there's an alternative that's not so addictive and so risky. Be your own advocate, because in the end, you are in charge of what you have."
Zerby is one of several panelists scheduled to speak at a series of opioid outreach seminars this week. The first is tonight in Webster at the Willink Middle School cafeteria at 6:30 p.m.
The second seminar is Wednesday at Churchville-Chili Senior High at 6:30 p.m., and the third is Thursday at Hilton High School starting at 7 p.m.
Other panelists will include Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza, District Attorney Sandra Doorley, and Monroe County Sheriff Deputy Michael Favata, in addition to counselors, community organizations, and the parents of children who have died as a result of their addiction.
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said the seminars are part of an effort to expand addiction education and awareness in the community.