MERCER, Pa. (WKBN) – The opioid problem in Mercer County has been a crisis for years and it’s getting worse.

Mercer County Coroner John Libonati said last year’s figure of 67 overdose deaths set a record, roughly 20 higher than the previous mark. Already in 2022, there have been 47 deaths due to drugs, which amounts to 20% of the coroner’s caseload in this county of just over 100,000 people.

“Death after death it’s just a little challenging,” he said. “We’re on course to possibly meet or exceed last year’s drug deaths.”

Officials say the increase comes despite the easy access now to overdose-reversing drugs such as Narcan In fact, there are concerns over the number of non-fatal overdoses that never get reported.

“It’s all fentanyl and forms of fentanyl,” said Tracy Bornick, a spokesperson for the Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission. “We’ve heard that it’s laced in cocaine, it’s laced in marijuana, so people are taking a risk buying their substances on the street.”

One of the commission’s goals is to educate the public about the help that is available, regardless of a person’s ability to pay or have insurance.

“We do provide assistance for individuals needing any level of treatment,” Bortnick said.

You find services online or call the crisis hotline at 724-662-2227.