Opioid Crisis: The Ripple Effect

As part of a public media collaborative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, WXXI News and partners Oregon Public Broadcasting and ideastream in Ohio present a special series, Opioid Crisis: The Ripple Effect.

The reporting series looks at the people and issues indirectly affected by the opioid crisis and makes the case that the epidemic’s ripple effects impact many. 

You'll also find our continuing coverage of the crisis here. 

We want to hear what you have to say about opioid and heroin use in our community. Please click on this link to take a short survey.



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s the equivalent of one bottle of prescription painkillers for every adult American. Meanwhile, 46 people a day die from an overdose of those same painkillers. That’s why New York State is trying to curb the problem of over prescribing.

Michelle Faust / WXXI

Heroin and opioid abuse and overdose deaths are on the rise; it is the leading cause of death in New York State. Monroe County had nearly 100 heroin overdoses last year. In this edition of Need To Know, we highlight an antidote that could reverse an overdose, and one mom - who lost her son to an overdose - is pushing for its use.

Connections: The Science and Dangers of Heroin

Jul 6, 2015

Continuing the discussion around heroin as part of our Heroin at Home series, we learn about the science and the dangers of heroin, and what we can do about it. We'll have sound clips from Jim Wesley, supervisor of the chemistry section of the Monroe County Public Safety Laboratory and more info from our panel:

  • Olinda Ford, associate director of the harm reduction initiative at Trillium Health
  • Dr. Timothy Wiegand, professor of emergency medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Elizabeth Burek, Rochester Drug Treatment Court

As part of our month-long series Heroin at Home, Michelle Faust joins Evan Dawson to talk about the beginnings of the recent heroin epidemic that is plaguing Rochester. Our guests:

Sam Quinones, author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

Ben Allen, reporter at WITF

WATCH: Heroin and Opioid Abuse in ROC

Jul 6, 2015

On this edition of Need To Know: Heroin and Opioid abuse is on the rise here in Monroe County and across the country. What efforts are in place to combat this?

Plus, OSHA is trying to curtail a disease that's plagued stone workers since the ancient greeks. We look into how OSHA is tackling silicosis.

Learn about Rochester's heroin epidemic and what officals can do to combat it, and see how a new OSHA standard could reduce lung cancer for construction workers.

Watch Need to Know with host Michelle Faust filling in for Hélène Biandudi Hofer Thursday at 8pm on WXXI-TV, Channel 21.1 and Cable 11 or 1221.

Heroin at Home

Jun 24, 2015

Addiction to heroin and opioid pharmaceuticals has become a growing epidemic in Rochester, New York State, and across the country.

Throughout July, Michelle Faust of WXXI News will bring you in-depth reporting on the effects of the heroin epidemic in our series, Heroin at Home.

Listen and watch all of Michelle's reporting:

Listen for special reports every Monday during Morning Edition and every Wednesday during All Things Considered on AM 1370 and WRUR 88.5 FM

Connections: Healthy Friday - Increase in Heroin Use

Feb 20, 2015

About 10 years ago, use and abuse of prescription opioids surged. Today, the related drug of choice is heroin. Police say the drug is more readily available than in the past. We’re going to talk with a person who is currently going through recover treatment, and others about this dangerous trend.      

  • Mark Winsberg, MD, Clinical Director, Rochester Regional Chemical Dependency
  • Paul Jacoby, primary therapist, Rochester Regional Chemical Dependency
  • Colin
  • Jim Wesley, Drug Chemistry Supervisor, Monroe County Crime Lab

Last Wednesday on Connections, the supervisor of the drug section in the Monroe County Crime Laboratory warned about a new drug trend. Jim Wesley told us that heroin is back in big numbers, but perhaps even more concerning is the new composition of heroin. 

His warning came just four days before actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead with a needle in his arm and bags of heroin on the floor.