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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 19, 2016

National Heroin & Opioid Awareness Week

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.-As prescription opioids and heroin continue to take a tragic toll on too many Americans and their families, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. joined with the Drug Enforcement Administration for the start of Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.
 
“Each year, more Americans die from a drug overdose than in traffic accidents,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “This epidemic continues to take a heartbreaking toll on our local community. “To date, there are 150 confirmed opioid-related deaths in Erie County and 74% of those deaths involved fentanyl.” 
 
In 2014, over 27,000 lives were lost to heroin and opioids in the United States, and reports indicate that number increased in 2015 and this year. The largest number of deaths came from the abuse of prescription opioids, but the number of heroin deaths, including heroin laced with fentanyl, has increased dramatically over the last several years. 
 
The Department of Justice has designated September 19-23, 2016 as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. The fight against this deadly epidemic involves a three-pronged approach: prevention; enforcement; and treatment. The goal of enforcement is to reduce the supply of these deadly substances.
 
U.S. Attorney Hochul further stated “Here in Western New York, we work closely with our partners at all levels, federal, state and local.” “We have prosecuted street dealers, gang members who sell drugs, doctors and other health care professionals. But we cannot arrest our way out of the problem. We will continue to join forces with our community partners in the medical, public health, prevention and treatment fields until we loosen the grip of this deadly epidemic.”
           
            U.S. Attorney Hochul encourages all in our community to:

•          Have meaningful conversations with your family about the dangers of heroin and opioid abuse, it can happen to anyone. 
•          Get involved in activities in the community against heroin and opioids. 
•          Contact law enforcement if you suspect drug-related activity in your neighborhood.
•          If you have prescription opioids in your home, make sure they are safely locked away.

To further raise awareness about this epidemic, on Thursday, September 22, 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is partnering with the Better Business Bureau of Upstate NY to present “Opiates in the Workplace.”

This two-hour event is free and open to all businesses in WNY. Employers can learn how to recognize the signs of addiction and ways to assist employees.

For more information and to register, go to http://bbbupstateny.org/opiates-workplace-registration/.

Updated September 21, 2016