Modified: May 20, 2022 2:46pm

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Nine deaths with suspected cocaine & fentanyl involvement in the past week prompts stark warning from Erie County Department of Health


**May 20, 2022, 2:45 p.m.: Since sharing this release this morning, ECDOH has learned of 5 additional deaths with suspected cocaine and fentanyl overdoses. This is a total of 9 suspected deaths due to an overdose involving cocaine and fentanyl, and counting, over the past week among Erie County residents.

Cocaine and fentanyl are a deadly combination, and our family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers are dying because of it.

Stay aware. Stay safe. Don’t use drugs alone. Have Narcan available. Test for fentanyl before you use. Support is available for substance use disorder.**



ERIE COUNTY, NY— Following at least nine Erie County resident deaths in the past week with suspected cocaine and fentanyl involvement, the Erie County Department of Health is sharing a stark warning with local residents: Don’t trust your cocaine.

The local supply of cocaine generally contains fentanyl, a potent opioid. Individuals who use cocaine that contains fentanyl are hit with the “high” of the cocaine, and the “low” of the fentanyl. The effects can stop or slow breathing, and stop the heart, leading to death.

“The main message that we want to share is that we need to keep people alive,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “As we see all too often with opioid overdose deaths, cocaine and fentanyl are a deadly combination. People should never use any drug alone and always have Narcan on hand just in case of an overdose.”

“To have overdose scenes where a person, or multiple people, die when a dose of Narcan could have saved their lives – these are heartbreaking situations,” said Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force Director Cheryll Moore. “Families and loved ones live with that pain, but we continue to transform that pain into progress with our task force activities.”

The work of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force is rooted in harm reduction. Harm reduction tools include:

  • Narcan (naloxone): Carry Narcan and know how and when to use it. Local trainings at
  • Text for Narcan: Text (716) 225-5473 to receive Narcan by mail for free. The only question we ask is what address to use for mailing.
  • Never use alone: Have someone with you who can use Narcan if you overdose. Or contact the Never Use Alone service ( or (800) 484-3731).
  • Test before use: Use fentanyl test strips on any drug (cocaine, marijuana) before use
  • Connect with care: Support and resources are available, from immediate access to buprenorphine through NY Matters at local emergency rooms, to the Buffalo & Erie County Addiction Hotline at (716) 831-7007.