Rehab treatment and support groups are available in Buffalo for those struggling with addiction. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer people the support they need to stay in recovery. The strong recovery community in Buffalo makes it an ideal city for those who need continued support.
After experiencing decades of population decline starting in the 1950s, Buffalo has recently begun to recover. While new residents are moving in more frequently, Buffalo and Erie County are in the midst of an opioid and heroin overdose epidemic that is driving the population down at alarming rates.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz told The Buffalo News that Erie County is averaging about 10 deaths per week related to the opioid epidemic.
“The entire amount of population gain we saw in the last 20 years will disappear in two years because of these overdose deaths,” Poloncarz said in April 2016.
Opioid abuse — which includes abuse of prescription drugs and heroin — is surging in Buffalo and the surrounding area. People are dying at staggering rates as a result of using these substances.
From 2014 to 2015, the number of opioid-related overdoses in Erie County more than doubled. The county saw 127 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2014. That number rose by 102 percent in 2015, reaching a record 256 opioid-related deaths. The average overdose victim was 38 years old, white and male.
As a result of the escalating opioid crisis, destructive behaviors are also increasing in Erie County. Needle sharing is becoming more common, and overdose rates are increasing. When heroin users share needles, it often leads to higher rates of HIV and hepatitis C.
As of August 2016, Erie County was on pace to lose 400 people to opioid overdose by the end of the year, according to the Erie County Health Department.
The county saw 127 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2014. That number rose by 102 percent in 2015, reaching a record 256 opioid-related deaths.
Overdoses related to the prescription drug fentanyl have been steadily increasing in recent years. In 2015, more than 60 percent of those who fatally overdosed in Erie County had fentanyl in their system. As of August 2016, 108 out of 145 overdose deaths in Erie County involved the drug.
Buffalo is included in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. Erie County receives specialized attention and support for drug prevention efforts for federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement entities. The DEA has an office in Buffalo to assist in local efforts against drug trafficking.
Much of the drug supply in Erie County is trafficked and distributed through street gangs that operate in Buffalo and other cities in New York. According to the DEA, Buffalo gang members who used to sell crack in the area have switched their focus to selling prescription drugs, such as opioids. The Bloods, the Lombard, Rother, Gibson and Playter Streets (LRGP) and the Bailey Boys are some of the drug-selling gangs that operate in Buffalo.
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Finding quality substance abuse treatment in the Buffalo area can be difficult, especially for young people. According to the Erie County 2014–2017 Community Health Assessment, the county has no publicly funded inpatient medical detox beds for those under the age of 18. The availability of methadone programs is limited. There are also limited providers in the area for medications such as Suboxone, which blocks opioid euphoria.
According to the DEA’s 2015 Threat Assessment for the New York/New Jersey HIDTA, admissions for heroin use disorder treatment in Erie County increased 77 percent from 2007 to 2013. In 2013, 40 percent of people admitted for heroin treatment were between 25 and 34 years old. The second largest age group was those under 25 years old, which made up 34 percent of Erie County heroin admissions.
From 2007 to 2013, prescription opioid treatment admissions in Erie County increased 89 percent, rising from 853 to 1,613. The majority of people seeking treatment for prescription opioid addiction were between 25 and 34 years old, accounting for 41 percent of all opioid admissions.
Cocaine abuse is on the decline in Buffalo. According to the DEA, Erie County saw a 55 percent decrease in drug treatment admissions for cocaine or crack addiction from 2007 to 2013. In 2013, 17 percent of Erie County treatment admissions were for either cocaine or crack.
In 2013, 45 percent of cocaine and crack treatment admissions in Erie County were people over the age of 45, and 29 percent were 35 to 44 years old. Despite the decrease in cocaine treatment admissions, Erie County ranked seventh highest in the state for the number of cocaine admissions.
Between 2007 and 2013, drug treatment admissions for marijuana in Erie County accounted for approximately 32 to 40 percent of total drug treatment admissions each year. In 2013, 53 percent of people admitted to treatment for marijuana abuse were under 25 years old, and 28 percent were 25 to 34 years old.
For those in recovery, Buffalo is an excellent location for a short- or long-term stay. With a great cost of living, unique city culture, an active sober-living community and numerous entertainment and recreational options, Buffalo could be the ideal setting to start a life free from drug and alcohol abuse.
Living in Buffalo is incredibly affordable. The average cost of living is 10.5 percent below the national average, according to Forbes. The unemployment rate in Buffalo is on par with the national average, and the city ranks among Forbes’s top 40 cities in the United States for cost of business. Major job industries in Buffalo include financial services, technology and education.
Buffalo is an underrated city that is beloved by visitors and residents alike. Travel and Leisure magazine rated it No. 1 on its list of America’s favorite cities in 2016, citing amazing food options, entertainment and overall culture as the biggest draws for Buffalo. There is no shortage of fine food options with classics such as Mulberry Italian Ristorante or Anchor Bar — the birthplace of the buffalo chicken wing. Entertainment options are numerous and provide Buffalo residents year-round fun.
For those in recovery seeking support from like-minded individuals, Buffalo can be a great place to live. Numerous sober living homes in Buffalo offer recovery support and create environments that foster sobriety. The city’s active sober community and a wide range of Meetup groups give people in recovery an opportunity to join a social circle that involves sober hobbies they enjoy.
Buffalo is located along Lake Erie, giving residents access to diverse recreational opportunities. Nearby Niagara Falls is a fantastic place to visit with family and friends. Boating and fishing on the lake are favorites among residents, and the lakeside businesses offer entertainment options suitable for all types of interests.
Buffalo and Erie County have passed local laws to prevent the damage drug abuse can inflict on their community.
One of the most effective laws involves drug addiction reporting. Article VI of the Charter and Ordinances of the City of Buffalo states:
“It shall be the duty of every physician, dentist, veterinarian, druggist or any other person knowing of or having reason to suspect the existence of a case of a person addicted to the use of a habit-forming drug to forthwith report the same to the office of the Department of Health, giving the name and address of the person so addicted to the use of such drug.”
The 1974 law requires caretakers and others to assist in addiction prevention by identifying residents who may have substance use disorders.
Government entities and local organizations work tirelessly to combat the growing drug abuse epidemic sweeping the Buffalo community. Multiple community initiatives provide prevention services and education to raise drug abuse awareness.
ECCPASA provides substance abuse education, prevention programs and intervention services to promote substance-free health and wellness among members of the community. The council offers assistance for addiction and prevention efforts through the following services:
This program strives to reduce high-risk behaviors and the subsequent negative consequences of alcohol abuse among college students. Using a campus-based media campaign and education to raise awareness, CCAA hopes to reduce the prevalence of alcohol abuse in college culture.
The Fetal Alcohol & Drug Effects program takes on the challenges of prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol through prevention efforts, education and awareness. Expectant mothers and fathers can benefit from presentations, training sessions and informational resources on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
This substance abuse intervention program is available for adolescents and adults. The adolescent program provides educational interventions for those 14 to 21 years old through one-on-one motivational interviewing and continued support. The adult program caters to people over 21 using similar techniques.
ECCPASA encourages parents to be active influencers in the lives of their teens or children to prevent drug or alcohol use. The council offers several programs for parents that promote open and honest conversations about substance use throughout a child’s life. It partners with schools and law enforcement to offer parents presentations on drug trends and issues. The SafeHomes campaign encourages parents in the community to communicate with their children about concerns.
The council aims to keep public officials, educators, youth mentors and Erie County residents informed on critical issues pertaining to alcohol and drug abuse. The Public Education and Advocacy program provides online resources, newsletters, bulletins and regularly occurring events to educate the public about the dangers of substance abuse.
Multiple programs support the development of social and life skills that encourage healthy decisions and contribute to substance abuse prevention. Skills for Tomorrow teaches social skills that will transfer from the classroom to the real world. The SPORT program educates students on how to minimize and avoid substance use. The programs can be tailored to students of all grade levels.
The Strengthening Families program is designed for parents with substance abuse problems who have children between six and 14 years old. The program offers direct education and prevention services to families that are proven to benefit children and parents.
Using a variety of multidisciplinary techniques and intervention practices, ECCPASA provides counseling, education and support services to remove barriers hindering students’ educational and personal development. The Student Assistance Prevention Counseling program is licensed by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office created this substance abuse prevention and education program to reduce substance abuse in the community. The goals of the program are to provide education through various techniques, enhance community skills to deal with substance abuse, provide support to those in need, enhance access to support services, develop positive decision-making skills and advocate for policy change. The program offers a number of services, including parental awareness efforts and drug training for community members.
This Buffalo-area nonprofit offers Just For Teens, a program designed for pregnant and parenting teens. It provides a supportive, judgement-free environment that fosters confidence and skill development to create stronger individuals and parents. Using a variety of techniques, such as social work and psychology, the program gives young parents the opportunity to create positive change in their lives and the lives of their children. Parenting topics covered in the program include fundamental parenting skills, alcohol and drug abuse, sexuality, child development techniques, nutrition and more.
This program from the Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties focuses on empowering youth in the Native American community to live healthy lifestyles and avoid substance abuse.
The goals of the program include:
The program includes workshops and events that contribute to the well-being of the Native American community. It provides curriculum that addresses life skills development, violence, drugs and other topics.
The goal of this City of Buffalo program is to provide youth and families access to health and social services, such as education, substance abuse treatment, food, clothing, shelter and more. The program also aims to help hard-to-reach youth prevent violence, substance abuse and dangerous behaviors through face-to-face interactions.
This task force is composed of seven committees that attack the opioid epidemic in Erie County from multiple fronts. The task force committees include:
The task force also provides several online resources and information on combating opioid abuse.
In addition to prevention efforts, Buffalo and Erie County provide a number of services that help those suffering from addiction find recovery.
The Rapid Evaluation Appropriate Placement (REAP) initiative helps those with opioid and heroin use disorders find streamlined paths toward treatment and recovery. This initiative aims to keep those with substance use disorders out of jail and instead get them into treatment to reach recovery. Volunteers called “Angels” work with individuals and show them the steps needed to start the path to recovery.
The Erie County Department of Mental Health offers prevention, treatment and rehab services for those with mental health problems, such as developmental disabilities, gambling addiction and substance use disorders.
Universities and colleges in the Buffalo area know that substance abuse and addiction are key issues among student populations. As a result, institutions of higher learning in the area offer counseling and support services for students and staff.
Counseling services at the University at Buffalo allow students to reach out and receive support when they are in need. Students can receive help with problems such as anxiety, depression, sexual concerns, academics, substance abuse, body image and more. Group and individual counseling are available, as are referrals to additional services.
The Buffalo State University Counseling Center offers students support for a variety of mental health concerns, such as anger management, depression, eating disorders and substance use disorders. The Counseling Center offers individual and group counseling, psychiatric services, psychological testing services, workshops, referrals and more.
The Canisius College Counseling Center offers individual and group counseling, consultations, mediation, medication evaluations and educational workshops for a multitude of issues. Students can receive help for mental health disorders, substance abuse, stress, eating disorders and other personal matters.
The Personal Counseling Center at D’Youville College offers licensed mental health counselors for students who are struggling emotionally or psychologically. The center offers substance abuse services, mental disorder services and eating disorder services. It also provides assistance with overcoming procrastination, sleep problems and test anxiety and offers support for sexual assault victims, children of alcoholics and veterans.
Public resources are available to guide Buffalo residents struggling with addiction through troubling times.
This program supports inmates during the transition back into society. Trained professionals help individuals before and after release to develop a Transitional Accountability Plan, which sets personal goals and identifies specific needs. The program also compiles resources for basic needs, mental health treatment, mentoring, employment and substance abuse.
The Crisis Services addiction hotline was established to provide round-the-clock support for residents struggling with substance abuse. This hotline, staffed by trained counselors, is available for those who have a friend or family member struggling with addiction as well. You can call (716) 831-7007 for support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.