Recovery centers in Erie County remember lives lost to opioid epidemic during Black Balloon Day

Erie County

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB)– Throughout the pandemic, the health focus has shifted away from Erie County’s opioid crisis.

But county officials say it’s still very much a problem, with more lives being lost to substance abuse than in recent years.

According to Erie county officials, overdoses in the county jumped nearly 50% in 2020, after a three year decline.

Volunteers at Sparks of Hope say with so much going on in the world it’s so important to have this day to remember the lives lost to addiction.

Between noon and 4 p.m., Saturday people were able to stop by several recovery centers around Western New York, including Sparks of Hope on Main Street in Hamburg to grab a black balloon.

People can then display these balloons in front of their homes and businesses to honor and remember the lives of loved ones lost to the opioid epidemic.

At Sparks of Hope, volunteers released balloons.

Volunteer, Alexis Andrews is a recovering addict and has been been clean for 7 years.

She says she’s lost a few people this past year to drugs and says the pandemic has made it harder on those suffering from addiction.

“People are still dying from drugs. That hasn’t stopped and it’s put barriers up to helping people, this COVID stuff you know. The limitations, the social distancing, everything that comes with the new way we’re living.”

Alexis Andrews, Volunteer and Recovering Addict

To contact Sparks of Hope Recovery Support Center click here.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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