Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter and Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini are calling for the appointment of a full-time opioid czar. 

Last Friday, Assini shook up the bimonthly meeting of the local Opioid Task Force. Assini railed against what he perceives as a lack of leadership and a losing fight against heroin. Several members of the task force told WXXI News that Assini's outburst was "jaw-dropping." 

Jennifer Faringer chairs the task force and says it was like a bomb hit the room.

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and the CDC says that growing crisis is caused by opioids. Local leaders are joining together to help combat the epidemic.

This hour, we preview the Churches Combating Addiction Conference, which will bring together experts in law enforcement, hospitals, recovery agencies, and churches. Our guests share their insight and answer your questions about the opioid epidemic. 

If you’re an addict in recovery finding a job is not an easy feat. An arrest record, time served behind bars, and the permanent suspension of a driver’s license can make gaining employment a challenge. However, at Rochester’s Coffee Connection all of the above could make you the perfect fit. Places such as Parkleigh, the University of Rochester, and all three Kitty Van Bortel car dealerships are stocked with the fair trade, organic, sustainably-farmed coffee from the Coffee Connection. Watch the story of a local spot where hundreds of women in recovery have gone to gain job skills and much more.

The heroin and opioid epidemic, recently declared a national public health emergency, is a problem surrounded by questions. Experts join Need to Know's Hélène Biandudi Hofer to help make sense of some of the most pressing questions and concerns in relation to addiction, treatment and support.

206 - that is the number of deaths in 2016 related to heroin, opioids, fentanyl, and related substances within the ten counties served by the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s office. That’s a number that grew 142 percent from 2015 to 2016.

It’s also a number that the Polito family of Rochester, like countless others, feared would include their own child, Mary Jo. In 2016 they learned their daughter was addicted to heroin and life as they knew it changed.

The Polito family’s story is one that may resonate with many watching this broadcast. And it’s a story Mary Jo herself wanted to share solely in the hopes of helping to save at least one life.

It’s a problem that’s not going away, in fact, it’s only getting worse. The heroin and opioid crisis in the Rochester region is taking lives, destroying families and neighborhoods, and shattering dreams.

On this edition of Need to Know we hear from addicts trying to reclaim their lives, a family with a message for others struggling to help their loved ones, experts working to peel away the layers of addiction and the women of a special coffee shop whose once broken dreams are being rebuilt.

The heroin and opioid epidemic is taking the lives of young and old in our region...and it’s only getting worse.

Thursday, November 2 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV is a special edition of Need to Know as addicts, families, and people involved in grassroots efforts speak out to help peel back the layers of addiction and provide a path for support.