Erie County Health Commissioner speaks on opioid epidemic, resources

Erie County Health Commissioner speaks on opioid epidemic, resources

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein spoke with News 4 about the impact of the opioid epidemic and what resources are available in Western New York.

This year, there have been more overdose deaths compared to the same time last year, Burstein said.

“As far as our opioid overdose deaths, there was almost a 20 percent increase compared to 2022,” she said. “So, we’re not in a good place right now. That’s why we really want people to know about all the resources that we have available in Erie County.”

Narcan is available to Erie County residents along with training on how to use it and what an overdose looks like. To receive Narcan, text 716-225-5473. To register for free online or in-person classes, visit

Fentanyl and xylazine test strips are also available for residents.

“There’s a lot of pills out there that are being advertised as being, say Adderall or benzodiazepines, but they’re really spiked with fentanyl,” Burstein said. “Those are also very toxic, so it’s really important that people have Narcan on hand.”

The Erie County Department of Health is available to help people find treatment and harm reduction services.

In Western New York, residents who are ready to start treatment for opioid use disorder can go to any emergency department, either in-person or virtually, and get a prescription for buprenorphine, Burstein said.

Vouchers are given to those who can’t afford the medication. An initial appointment with a substance use treatment provider is also offered.

For more information and to access resources, call the ECDOH at 716-858-7695.

Katie Skoog joined the News 4 team in April 2024 as a digital producer. She is a graduate from the University at Buffalo. You can see more of her work here.

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