Turning to Erie County for advice in the fight against opioids

Local News

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Local leaders across the county are now turning to Erie County for answers in the fight against opioids.

They’ve come from five counties, one as far away as Oregon, to Buffalo to spend a week learning about some of the tools Western New York is using to decrease opioid-related deaths. On Tuesday, they observed a meeting of Erie County’s Opiate Epidemic Task Force of ECC’s North Campus in Amherst.

Later this week, they’ll visit treatment providers and the Buffalo Opioid Intervention Court.

Opioid-related deaths in Erie County have dropped each year since 2016, when there were 301 of them. So far this year, there are 85 confirmed cases, with another 50 under investigation.

According to Erie County officials, the drop can be attributed in part to the “all hands on deck” approach being taken locally. That’s why Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says the U.S. Department of Justice chose Erie County as a model.

“We’re not just doing one or two things,” Poloncarz said. “We’re doing so many things, dozens of things. What we found out is if it works, continue it. If it doesn’t, try something new. What we want our friends from across the country to recognize is to properly address the opiate epidemic, you can’t just do one or two things. you have to do multiple things.”

Erie County officials will soon introduce a new tool in hopes it will drive down the number of deaths even further. They’ll be distributing Narcan emergency kits to any business interested in putting one on their wall, similar to how fire extinguishers and AEDs are displayed on walls. Any business interested in obtaining one can send an email to opiatetaskforce@erie.gov.

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