The Erie County Department of Health is strongly advising 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 cocaine and opioids such as fentanyl were involved in these deaths.
Of the 15 confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in 2021, seven involved cocaine, while 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 three more cases pending.
“When we see five overdose-related deaths in one day, we have to alert our community,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “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.
A press release stated, “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.”
In addition, ECDOH said:
√ 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.
√ ECDOH opiate epidemic task force: www.erie.gov/opioidtrainings
√ Never Use Alone – neverusealone.com or 800-484-3731