WILLIAMSVILLE N.Y. (WKBW) — Erie County has been nationally recognized for how it is handling the opioid crisis. Leaders from counties across the country have come to Western New York to find out what Erie County is doing that sets them apart.
"We can't arrest our way out of this. What we need to do is get help for people, because addiction is a disease and recovery is possible," Michael Ranney, the Erie County Mental Health Commissioner, said.
The group is learning from Erie County's Opiate Epidemic Task Force, Opioid Intervention Court and Bestself's Recovery Connections Mobile Unit. Those who traveled came from counties in Oregon, Ohio, Georgia, Indiana and Florida. The biggest take away was team work.
"One of the biggest things that brought us to Erie County is the level of collaboration is really key here," said Natassia Walsh, the Associate Program Director for Justice of the National Association of Counties.
Jeff Goodwin and James Groves shared their stories with us last August, saying they came to Erie County specifically for the resources available.
"These drugs... the things I've done... They stole my life from me," said Jeff Goodwin, a recovering addict.
Goodwin never imagined he'd be sitting on his front porch in Buffalo, sober, sharing his story.
"I kind of went through all the phases of drug addiction," Goodwin said, "I thought I would die in a bathroom. Probably a public bathroom."
Groves said he had similar fears. He suffered from opioid addiction for 30 years. He's now 49-years old.
"It saved my life. Truly. I feel great now. It's different," said Groves.
These men game to Buffalo more than one year ago to conquer their addictions.
"I don't ever want to go back to what I came from. God gave me this second chance. I'm very alive, and I love my life," Goodwin said.