Drug Abuse Trends in Buffalo
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.
Drug Abuse Statistics for Buffalo
In Erie County, there are 244.4 drug-related diagnoses among every 10,000 newborns.
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.
Fentanyl Overdose in Buffalo
In Buffalo’s Erie County, heroin and fentanyl use doubled between 2011 and 2012; overall opioid abuse doubled within the following year. Prescription painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone were common prescriptions of the time. The abuse of prescription painkillers has fallen in recent years thanks, in part, to the governor’s I-STOP program (preventing “doctor shopping” or visiting multiple doctors for the same prescription). However, as prescription opioid use has declined, illicit opioid abuse has increased steadily.
Street fentanyl and other injectable drugs like heroin have flooded rural and urban streets. Nearly 80% of Erie County’s 268 opioid-related deaths are the result of fentanyl and fentanyl-derivatives up to 100 times stronger than morphine. 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 like Collins, Lancaster, and Cheektowaga. Most of the victims of overdose are white (84%) and male (74%) with an average age of 31.
The rise in injection-drug use has resulted in a parallel rise in viral infections like HIV and Hepatitis C, in particular. Since 2012, the rate of Hepatitis C infection has increased by 51%. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, the rate of infection increased by 75%.
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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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