Modified: March 26, 2021 4:38pm
FOLLOWING FIVE SUSPECTED OVERDOSE DEATHS IN A 24-HOUR PERIOD, THE ERIE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH URGES PUBLIC TO “NEVER USE ALONE”
ERIE COUNTY, NY – The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) is strongly urging Erie County residents that drugs in the area are not what they seem.
On Thursday, March 25, the Erie County Medical Examiner’s office took in five suspected overdose cases. These cases are pending toxicology reports, but ECDOH strongly suspects that cocaine and opioids like fentanyl were involved in these deaths. Of the 15 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in 2021, 7 deaths involved cocaine. 70 additional cases are pending toxicology results.
From 2019 to 2020, Erie County experienced a 57% increase in confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths, from 156 deaths in 2019 to 245 deaths in 2020, with 3 more cases pending.
“When we see five overdose related deaths in one day, we have to alert our community,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Harm reduction tools and our warning – don’t trust your cocaine – can help prevent these tragic deaths. To our community, please, get a Narcan kit and learn how to use it.”
ECDOH is warning residents that cocaine is likely to contain fentanyl, which can stop a person from breathing and cause immediate death. Cocaine and fentanyl are a deadly combination. Fentanyl is an opioid, and Narcan (naloxone) is able to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose – but only if it is administered in time. ECDOH will provide free Narcan to anyone on request. If you or someone in your life uses opioids or cocaine, ECDOH urges you to request a free Narcan kit or obtain Narcan or naloxone from a pharmacy.
- If you are seeking help, the Buffalo and Erie County Crisis Services Addiction Hotline is available 24/7 at (716) 831-7007.
- If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, please make sure you carry Narcan (naloxone) at all times.
- ECDOH’s Text for Narcan” program has expanded access to free Narcan kits. Erie County residents can text (716) 225-5473 and we will provide you with Narcan, no questions asked.
- Free Narcan kits are available from ECDOH staff and at outreach events throughout the county.
- Free emergency Narcan boxes are available for businesses and organizations to install in accessible areas in their facility. ECDOH will resupply these boxes with free Narcan kits as needed. Call (716) 858-7695.
- ECDOH produced a short video on How to Save a Life with Narcan. Watch the eight-minute training on the Erie County YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8V3JkJ2sZw
*Note for media: “Substance use disorder” and “person with a substance use disorder” are preferred terms in public health and medicine instead of other, more stigmatizing terms like “drug addiction,” “addict” or “drug abuser.”
- ECDOH Opiate Epidemic Task Force: www.erie.gov/opioidtrainings
- VIDEO - ECDOH Narcan Training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8V3JkJ2sZw
- Text for Narcan in Erie County: (716) 225-5473
- Never Use Alone – neverusealone.com or (800) 484-3731