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Letter: More resources needed to fight opioid epidemic

More resources needed to fight opioid epidemic

As a working advocate for individuals struggling with substance abuse, and an individual active in this realm of the community, I feel it is necessary to reach out about the current opioid epidemic facing Erie County.

Opioid addiction has affected my family and close friendships, my peers, neighbors and those dear to me. I’ve observed that each year I am attending more funerals and these individuals are getting younger in age. These are people who are otherwise kind, generous, intelligent, productive and have everything to live for. The nature of addiction is crippling and those afflicted find themselves completely powerless. Addicts and their loved ones are left feeling a desperate hopelessness.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has organized the Erie County Opioid Addiction Task Force, which is developing a countywide approach to the problem. The task force is composed of individuals from different backgrounds and includes treatment providers, researchers, family members, peers, medical professionals and advocates. This group is making some inspiring progress. Poloncarz is also calling for a new hotline that will be available for screening, information and referrals, as well as new personnel in the Health Department with a focus on the opioid epidemic.

My hope is that the Erie County Legislature will show initiative by approving these much-needed resources. We are in dire need of “speedy” resources like the hotline because the window of time in which an addict is open to receiving help is small and our need is great.

Kristalee Hites

Families’ Child Advocacy Network