BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Erie County Department of Health issued a warning Friday after seeing at least nine deaths in the past week believed to be linked to cocaine and fentanyl.

“Don’t trust your cocaine,” their announcement read in bold letters.

“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.”

The ECDOH explained why cocaine laced with fentanyl can be so deadly.

“The local supply of cocaine generally contains fentanyl, a potent opioid,” they said in a release. “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 Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force issued reminders of the following resources it has available:

  • Narcan (naloxone): Carry Narcan and know how and when to use it. Local trainings at www.erie.gov/opioidtrainings
  • 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 (neverusealone.com 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.

Update: The first paragraph initially said four deaths; DOH later updated to nine.

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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here