Western New York, like many other communities all over the country, is dealing with the effects of opioid abuse.

The illicit use of drugs, legal and illegal, has had a terrible neighborhood throughout Buffalo and Western New York. Since the 1970s, America has been fighting the War on Drugs with very little success in stemming the tide against illegal drug use. The United Nations Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) has gone as far as to say that the War on Drugs has actually failed.

The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and years after President Nixon launched the US government's war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.
-Global Commission on Drug Policy

Opioids like fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, along with drugs like heroin, have had a significant contribution to the large increase in overdose deaths we've seen in New York. Officials have been issuing warnings about another opioid that has been wreaking havoc in communities, and that new opioid has caused its first death in Erie County.

Western New York Sees First Death Linked to Carfentanil

According to the US Department of Justice, an opioid that is 10,000 times more powerful than morphine has been causing overdose and overdose deaths to increase in Texas and Maryland and is potent enough that just touching it can pose a severe danger.

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Carfentanil is surfacing in more and more communities. We see it on the streets, often disguised as heroin. It is crazy dangerous. Synthetics such as fentanyl and carfentanil can kill you.
-Chuck Rosenberg, US Drug Enforcement Administration

Carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that was initially created as an elephant tranquilizer, is an opioid that is 5,000 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and officials from the Erie County Department of Health are reporting it has caused its first death in WNY.

Our Medical Examiner’s Office investigated 371 confirmed or suspected opioid-related overdose deaths in 2023, with another month left this year. That is already 20% higher than the total in 2022, which was our highest total ever and the year is not over yet... Given the volume of opioid-related overdose deaths in 2023, it is possible that toxicology testing will confirm carfentanil in other cases.
-Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health

The death happened in September 2023, and according to toxicology tests from the victim, the person who died had multiple substances in their system, including carfentanil, cocaine, fentanyl, and other opioids.

Erie County Department of Health
Erie County Department of Health

Officials do report that Narcan (naloxone) does work to reverse the effects that come from carfentanil use. But, because the drug is so strong, someone may need multiple doses of naloxone to revive them.

How To Use Naloxone In An Emergency

Naloxone is the brand name for nasal sprays like Narcan and was designed to reverse the effects of opioid overdose rapidly and is used in an emergency. It can potentially revive someone during an overdose event caused by the misuse of prescription pain medications or street drugs like heroin. These medications are generally available as an over-the-counter treatment. According to the New York State Department of Health, these are the steps to use Naloxone or other opioid nasal sprays.

Gallery Credit: Ed Nice

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