Drug And Alcohol Addiction In Buffalo, New York
Outside of New York City, Buffalo is the largest city in New York state with a metropolitan area population of 1.2 million. The city is well-known for its proximity to Niagara Falls and is a main border checkpoint between the US and Canada. Unfortunately, Buffalo also has one of the nation’s highest crime rates (15th). Like many other cities along the eastern side of the US, the Opioid Epidemic has increased rates of drug addiction, overdose, and crime.
While there are limited treatment facilities in the immediate area, there are many in surrounding regions that specialize in various forms of addiction and abuse rehab and recovery services.
Drug Abuse Statistics For Buffalo
With a population of 28% of the Erie County, Buffalo sees 52% of the county’s overall overdose deaths.
Over two years in Erie County, the emergency response department responded to over 800 opioid-related overdoses.
57% of opioid overdose victims were between the ages of 20 and 39.
Buffalo’s Uptick In Overdoses
Between 2010 and 2017, there was a 200% increase in the number of Opioid-related overdose deaths in the state of New York. Erie County alone has seen 110 overdoses in the span of 1 month that resulted in 36 deaths. Preliminary data from January to November of 2021 shows 141 confirmed Opioid fatalities and 116 pending cases; depending on the result of those pending cases, Erie County could see its highest death rate since 2016.
Most of the deaths have been linked in some way to Fentanyl (a synthetic Opioid up to 100 times more powerful than Morphine); the inclusion of which has been seen in greater frequency across the country in recent years. While many Opioid addictions begin from prescription painkillers like Hydrocodone or Oxycodone, after the implementation of the I-STOP program in the state (which prevents “doctor shopping” or visiting multiple doctors for the same prescription), illicit Opioid abuse (like Heroin and other injectable substances) began to rise.
Substance use disorders related to Fentanyl have spread throughout the region – 44% of overdoses occurred within the city while 52% were in rural and suburban areas. The rise in injection-drug use has resulted in a parallel rise in viral infections like HIV and Hepatitis C, in particular. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the rate of Hepatitis C infection had increased by 75%.
Addiction Treatment In Buffalo
Authorities have reacted strongly to the increases in addiction and death across New York. In 2012 the state legislature restricted prescription painkillers; two years later, they increased the reach of addiction treatment centers, toughened penalties for Opioid possession, and boosted access to Naloxone (an anti-overdose drug). Over two years, the increase in Naloxone saved 81% of the patients it was administered to. More recently, in 2017, the state of New York increased funding to fight the Heroin, Fentanyl, and Opioid epidemic by 13% to $213 million.
Buffalo has taken many strides in making addiction treatment easily available to its residents. Erie County hosts a number of contaminated needle exchanges (where individuals can swap dirty needles for clean ones, reducing the spread of disease) and addiction treatment medication access sites for medications like Narcan, Naloxone, and Buprenorphine. Public health centers also offer intervention and recovery services. Still, the area has experienced long waitlists for treatment.
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Destiny Bezrutczyk is a Digital Content Writer from west Iowa. She earned a Bachelor’s in English Language and Literature from Texas Tech University. After working as a freelance script and blog writer, she began writing content for tech startups. Maintaining a passion for words, she took on a variety of projects where her writing could help people (especially those battling mental health and substance use disorders).
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- Buffalo Business First. (2016). New FBI report: Buffalo’s violent-crime rate is 15th worst in the nation. Retrieved on July 23, 2018 at https://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2016/09/26/violentcrimes.html
- The Buffalo News. (2018). ‘Light at the end of the tunnel’: Opioid deaths in Erie County decrease. Retrieved on July 23, 2018 at https://buffalonews.com/2018/02/27/erie-county-opioid-death-rate-starting-to-fall/
- University of Buffalo. (2017). Study: Narcan revived 653 opioid overdose victims in Erie County. Retrieved on July 24, 2018 at http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2017/10/004.html
- WGRZ. (2017). Drug deaths surge again in upstate. Retrieved on July 24, 2018 at https://www.wgrz.com/article/news/health/drug-deaths-surge-again-in-upstate/433756254
- WKBW. (2018). Erie County: Beginning of the end of opioid epidemic. Retrieved on July 24, 2018 at https://www.wkbw.com/news/erie-county-beginning-of-the-end-of-opioid-epidemic
- Spectrum Local News 1. (2021). Erie County Opioid Task Force Updates the Community on Overdoses. Retrieved on January 27, 2022 from: https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/buffalo/news/2021/11/08/erie-county-opioid-task-force-updates-the-community-on-overdoses-
- New York State Department of Health. (2020). New York State Opioid Annual Report 2020. Retrieved on January 27, 2022 from: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/opioid/data/pdf/nys_opioid_annual_report_2020.pdf
- United States Department of Justice. (2020). With Sharp Rise In Fatal Drug Overdoses In Erie County During The Past Month, Buffalo Man Arrested And Charged With Heroin Possession Following Months Of Surveillance. Retrieved on January 27, 2022 from: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdny/pr/sharp-rise-fatal-drug-overdoses-erie-county-during-past-month-buffalo-man-arrested-and