Town hall meeting to tackle opioid addiction problem in WNY

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Erie County is trying to get a grip on the growing opioid epidemic.

County and local officials have scheduled a Town Hall Meeting to deal with the problem head-on.

“The entire amount of population gain we saw in the last 20 years will disappear in two years because of these overdose deaths,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

County health officials say more than two hundred people died because of heroin last year.

They expect that number to double this year.

“Education and information are essential to winning the fight against addiction in our community,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “We will continue to work with our partners to raise awareness and get critical information to maximize our ability to prevent opioid addiction and to enable those who are addicted.”

Erie County is averaging about ten opioid-related deaths a week, according to the health department.

Burstein called it a “public health emergency.”

Local leaders promised that the Town Hall meeting will be an opportunity for residents to learn about addiction and a chance to find out what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“Make no mistake; the opiate addiction crises that the country finds itself knows no geographical or economic boundaries,” said Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Joseph Emminger. “I would hasten to say that all of us know someone; be it a family member, friend or the friend of a friend who has struggled with this disease.”

The Town Hall meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, May 4 at Kenmore West High School, is entitled, “You are not alone: Addiction in our zip code.”  

 The program starts at 7:00 PM in the school’s auditorium. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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