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Seven overdose deaths reported to Erie County Medical Examiner's office in 6-hour span on Monday


Tue, Jun 18th 2024 01:15 pm

ECDOH: Test your drugs for fentanyl; never use alone; carry Narcan; seek support and treatment

By the Erie County Department of Health

The Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office received reports of seven overdose-related deaths over a six-hour period on Monday, June 17. Investigations and toxicology tests will confirm the drugs involved in these deaths, but preliminary reports indicate that each scene is suspected to have a form of cocaine (crack or powder) present.

Three of these deaths occurred in the City of Buffalo, three in the Town of Tonawanda, and one in the City of Lackawanna. Ages ranged from the early 40s to early 60s; six were male and one was female; six were white and one was Hispanic. Two scenes had two individuals who died together, presumably after taking the same substance.

“The opioid-related death numbers our community is experiencing this year are staggering, and we need people who use drugs to hear this message loud and clear: We want you to stay alive,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “Our peers, public health educators, treatment agencies, medical community, law enforcement, families – we are all on the same page, shouting the message that the cocaine you take today can kill you today. There are measures you can take to reduce your risk of dying when using cocaine and other stimulants, and opioids, and we are here with support for people who will take that step and work with us.”

Through Thursday, June 13, the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office reported 85 confirmed opioid-related deaths, 20 confirmed non-opioid (overdose) deaths, and 106 suspected opioid-related deaths for the year.

The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) offers harm-reduction supplies and peer support – call 716-858-7695. Other ways to reduce the risk of harm from drug use:

√ Carry Narcan, and know how and when to use it. Text 716-225-5473 to have Narcan and fentanyl test strips mailed to you for free. Narcan is always available in the lobby of the Rath Building in Buffalo. MATTERS Network also has Narcan vending machines in Western New York.

√ Never use alone. Have Narcan and a friend with you who is not using drugs, or contact a service like Never Use Alone (neverusealone.com)

√ Test your drugs for fentanyl even if you think it is cocaine or another substance that is not an opioid. Free test strips available from the ECDOH. Call 716-858-7695.

√ Seek support. ECDOH has peer navigators and a family coordinator; call 716-858-7695. The Buffalo & Erie County Addictions Hotline is available 24/7 with referrals for individuals and their families. Call 716-831-7007.

√ Seek treatment. Local hospital emergency departments can connect patients to immediate medication addiction treatment. Ask for MATTERS Network, a service that rapidly refers people with opioid use disorder or people who use opioids to treatment, peer support and medication. Patients can be seen at outpatient treatment agencies within 24 hours; call 800-622-4357 or visit any local emergency department. Virtual emergency department medication addiction treatment services are also available.

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