NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) – Drug overdoses have spiked amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Niagara County.

According to the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, the number of drug overdose cases from Jan. 1 to April 6 is 35 percent higher than the same time frame in 2019.

The spike could be caused by a number of factors, including the adjustment of
methadone clinic hours, decreased availability of methadone or other synthetic treatments for opioid abuse, or a heightened sense of anxiety and job loss.

“These overdose cases result in an EMS and law enforcement response to render aid for the stricken person and are also taxing our potentially overburdened hospitals in Niagara County,” a press release from the sheriff’s office said Thursday.

Family members and friends of known substance users are asked to watch for any signs that could indicate that the person is slipping back into a pattern of drug abuse.

People are urged to make contact with the Niagara County Crisis Services Hotline at (716) 285-3515 for early intervention and assistance with these or any problem relating to substance abuse.

If you call 911, don’t leave the victim alone.

Treatment centers in Niagara County remain open and most programs are offering services via phone or video conference, the press release adds. Crisis Services or the Sheriff’s Office can provide people with further specific information.