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 will look at the people and issues indirectly affected by the opioid crisis and make the case that the epidemic’s ripple effects impact many. 

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.


Denise Young/WXXI

One day, Rebecca Shriver was at work, helping an elderly patient get to the bathroom, when the patient became unsteady.

“If I didn’t put my leg out and try to catch her, she would’ve cracked her head on the wall,” Shriver recalled.

Shriver was a certified nursing assistant at the time, in Buffalo, New York. She had twisted her knee a few months earlier, and that day – as she tried to keep her patient from falling – things took a turn for the worse.

“We both fell and that resulted in the disease I have now,” Shriver said.

An annual memorial service honoring the start of National Crime Victims Week focused on the opioid epidemic Sunday.

Members of Recovery Now New York, Substance Overdose Awareness Recovery Services (SOARS), and other community members gathered to remember those lost to an opioid overdose, and say they are crime victims as well.

Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode said the epidemic is taking more lives than people might think.

Beth Adams/WXXI News

Wendyl Jones recalls an old James Brown song that delivers an apt warning about heroin.

“He said it would 'drive you to hell,' and that's exactly what it will do. I've lost multiple friends over the last couple of years due to this."

A tear runs down Jones’ cheek as he describes his trip to hell.  

The 42-year-old’s heroin addiction began about seven years ago when he started taking Percocet, an opioid pain medication, after he injured his neck and back in a car accident. 

Denise Young/WXXI News

Monroe County officials released figures Wednesday that show the deadly impact that the opioid crisis has had on this area.

At a news conference at Greece Town Hall, County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said in the first half of 2016, the medical examiner’s office reported 97 overdose fatalities directly attributable to the use of heroin, opioids and other related substances.

In the same time period of 2017, there were 115 deaths.