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As opioid deaths rise, Chautauqua County focused on medication treatment

The county's new campaign with the HEALing Communities Study aims to help people and families impacted by opioid use disorder.

MAYVILLE, N.Y. — It's a trend that's troubling health officials across Western New York, including Chautauqua County. People are unknowingly ingesting fentanyl while consuming stiumulants, or "party drugs," such as cocaine. While undetected, sometimes, the level of fentanyl can be deadly.

Erie County officials say cocaine was present in 81 percent of the confirmed or suspected overdose deaths that had toxicology results this year, and Chautauqua County says they're seeing similar numbers. 

Steve Kilburn of the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene says people should assume any street drug has fentanyl in it. He says it's an attempt to expand the market for the highly addictive synthetic opioid. 

"I think it's presence in other drugs and in some cases people ingesting it with no intention of taking an opioid, is essentially an attempt to get more people addicted," Kilburn said. "In some instances it has the effect of killing them."

Chautauqua County recently worked with the HEALing Communities Study to launch a month-long campaign to support people and families impacted by opioid use disorder, with the focus on "Staying in Medication Treatment."

One of the goals is to normalize treatment using medications like methodone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine. All are three are FDA approved to lower the risk of relapse and overdose. 

"These medications are available and they are effective," Kilburn said. "People are on these medications who have a history of active opioid addiction and are functioning very well now in their families, in their communities, in their workplaces."

For more information, including a map of where to find NARCAN and other resources in Chautauqua County, use the following links: 

www.HEALTogetherNY.org/Chautauqua or www.CombatAddictionCHQ.com



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