Press Releases

Public Media Examines the Addiction and Overdose Crisis

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

Opioids Overdose Fatalities Up 68% Since 2019

WCNY 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.

WCNY 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 pandemic,” said Mitch Gelman, President and CEO of WCNY. “We hope that by examining this epidemic and highlighting how and where help is available, that we can help save lives.”

“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 will include a one-hour live broadcast, “New York State Public Media Special Report: COVID-19 and the Overdose Epidemic,” which 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. This broadcast is being produced by WXXI in Rochester and will be carried on all nine public television stations throughout the state. The program will air on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. on WCNY-TV.

“Overdose Epidemic” programming will continue to be produced and aired throughout 2023 and available to stream.

For more information and to view the program schedule, please visit

About WCNY

WCNY was founded in 1965 as The Educational Television Council of Central New York. Today, it is a public communications organization that produces content across multiple platforms, including television and radio programs, dynamic web and targeted email content, the WCNY CONNECT magazine, and social media. Through its media platforms, in-person and virtual events, WCNY brings local coverage and educational services to Central New Yorkers. WCNY operates four digital, pledge-free broadcast channels and three radio stations. Classic FM is one of a few radio stations in the world dedicated to locally programmed classical music.

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 to learn more and find treatment, or Call the 24/7 HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY or Text HOPENY (467369).


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