Pubdate: Wed, 13 Apr 2016
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2016 The Buffalo News
Author: James Hoddick


We at the Erie County Board of Health feel compelled to bring more 
attention and awareness to the imminent public health epidemic 
currently upon us. Opioids - both prescription drugs and drugs of 
abuse, such as heroin and fentanyl - are killing residents at an 
unprecedented rate. Opiate addiction is affecting residents of all 
ages and from all walks of life; the disease does not discriminate 
and has no socioeconomic boundaries.

In 2014, 127 residents' deaths were attributed to opioids of all 
types. As of March 28, there have been 219 deaths attributed to 
opioids in 2015, and there is still a backlog of bodies waiting to 
have the cause of death cleared through results of toxicology screens.

The broader issue of the epidemic is being addressed through the 
efforts of the Erie County Opiate Overdose Task Force and its seven 
work groups. The Erie County Department of Health also offers free 
naloxone training and kits to anyone touched by this epidemic.

Opiate addiction needs to be regarded as a disease with no stigma 
attached. As far as treatment, there is very limited in-patient 
treatment. Denial is a predominant symptom of addiction. This denial 
encompasses the individual, the family and the community at large. 
Many communities do not believe that this is occurring in their 
neighborhood. We must take efforts to intervene prior to the lives 
being adversely affected by addiction in the first place. Saving our 
children, family members and friends must become a priority.

We as a community should take the responsibility to educate ourselves 
about this increasing epidemic. As with all diseases, we need to 
support prevention efforts, acute intervention and long-term treatment.

James Hoddick, D.D.S.

President Erie County Board of Health
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