WPBS joins in statewide Public Media examination of THE ADDICTION AND OVERDOSE CRISIS

New York’s “Overdose Epidemic” Combines Original Content, Multi-Platform Resources, a Statewide Town Hall and Special Programming 

Opioids Overdose Fatalities Up 68% Since 2019

WATERTOWN, NY (February 13, 2023) – WPBS-TV announced today that the week of February 13th will kick off a special collaborative effort to examine New York State’s addiction and overdose crisis. “Overdose Epidemic” programming will draw attention to this public health crisis and raise awareness of services available in local communities for those impacted by addiction.

Public media is renowned for its thoughtful and thorough approach to public affairs and social issues, and “Overdose Epidemic” will touch on topics as wide-ranging as the science of addiction, reducing the stigma of addiction and recovery, addiction among veterans and young people, and what public health officials are doing to combat the crisis.

WPBS-TV has developed this effort in a collaboration with the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS), relying on their scientific and treatment expertise.  OASAS is providing dynamic tools for New Yorkers to connect with local recovery resources in their community.

NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, “We continue to experience the worst overdose epidemic in the history of our state and nation. Educating the public is essential to helping end stigma; ensure that people know how to access help; and to promoting the effectiveness of prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery services.   We appreciate public media’s interest in highlighting this important issue and know that this collaboration will help us to raise awareness and save more lives.”

“Addiction and overdoses tragically increased during the COVID pandemic,” said Mark Prasuhn, President and General Manager of WPBS-TV.  “We hope that by examining this health crisis and highlighting how and where help is available in the North Country and across the state, that we can help save lives.”

“The WPBS production team continually strives to shed light on and give context to the most important stories of our region. Our focus on the overdose epidemic is ongoing and will include coverage of the issue on WPBS Weekly: Inside the Stories during this special week and also in the months to come,” said Tracy DuFlo, Director of Production and Executive Producer.

“Farnham in Oswego and other agencies like PIVOT and Credo in Jefferson County are great resources, as are prevention and awareness community events,” said Chris Baszto, Senior Director of Services at Farnham Family Services in Oswego County. “But I think another fundamental piece here is reducing stigma. The stigma reduction is a big part of this because if we can’t talk about it, then we can’t make strides.”

Watertown resident Lisa Jones lost her daughter Lisha to an accidental fentanyl overdose in March 2021.  What Lisha thought to be heroin turned out to be pure fentanyl.  Lisa advocates in the community to raise awareness. Funds raised go to the Bridge Program, a program offered by the Urban Mission that is an alternative to incarceration and offers those in trouble with the law for substance use related crimes, an opportunity to get their lives back on track.

“I do a lot in the community, as much as we can, to raise awareness. On Lisha’s birthday we held up signs in Public Square. Our signs told people about the 93,000 people that died in 2021 to fentanyl overdose,” said Lisa.  “We hope to help families so that they don’t have to go through what we’re going through.”

“Overdose Epidemic” brings together public media across the state to focus on a single issue across multiple platforms—broadcast television, radio, podcasts, online streaming, social media, live events, and more.

The week of special programming on WPBS will include:

• Independent Lens: Love in the Time of Fentanyl – Canada’s first supervised drug injection site in Vancouver, British Columbia gives hope to a marginalized community ravaged by the overdose crisis (Monday, February 13th at 9:00 pm)

• Opioids and First Responders: Answering the Call – Three first responders fighting every day on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic (Monday, February 13th at 10:30 pm)

• Connect NY: Overdose Epidemic – On this episode of Connect NY we’ll examine the state’s investments in combating the overdose epidemic and learn more about harm reduction strategies (Tuesday, February 14th at 12:00 midnight)

• WPBS Weekly: Inside the Stories – featuring an extended segment on the Opioid Crisis in the North County (Tuesday, February 14th at 7:30 pm)

• The one-hour live broadcast New York State Public Media Special Report: COVID-19 and the Overdose Epidemic – produced by PBS station WXXI, Rochester, will feature stories from across the state of New Yorkers in recovery, experts on addiction and the COVID-19 epidemic, government officials addressing the crisis, and local agencies providing services and support to those affected by the crisis (Friday, February 17th at 7:00 pm)

“Overdose Epidemic” programming will continue to be produced and aired throughout 2023 and available to stream. For more information and updates, please visit: www.wpbstv.org/overdose-epidemic

About WPBS
WPBS is a PBS station serving approximately 650,000 households throughout Northern New York and Eastern Ontario via cable, satellite, Internet and over-the-air distribution. WPBS is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, inform, and engage its two-nation region with exceptional and trusted content across multiple platforms. Its vision is to be the premier provider of extraordinary public media that instills wonder and curiosity across generations and borders. More information about WPBS, including a full channel listing, is available at wpbstv.org, or by following WPBS on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS) oversees one of the nation’s largest addiction services systems with approximately 1,600 prevention, treatment and recovery programs. OASAS chemical dependency treatment programs have an average daily enrollment of nearly 100,000 people and serve approximately 234,000 individuals every year.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction can visit https://oasas.ny.gov/projectcope to learn more and find treatment or Call the 24/7 HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY or Text HOPENY (467369)