New 24-hour hotline could help save lives in Erie County

Posted at 6:41 PM, Aug 01, 2016

In an effort to battle a growing heroin and opiate addiction problem in Western New York, the Erie County Department of Health and Crisis Services have worked together to create a dedicated addiction hotline.

The addiction hotline opened Monday morning.

The hotline is open to people struggling with addiction and and to anybody who might see addiction affecting a friend or family member.  The number is 716-831-7007 and trained counselors will be operating the hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Crisis Services has run other emergency hotlines in the region for decades and has seen addiction-related calls growing the past few years.

"They will get a live counselor who will ask them what their current situation is, and if it is a client, what do they hope to gain by calling and reaching out for assistance," Rachel Morrison, hotline coordinator for Crisis Services, said.

"We will then link them with different resources in the community, outpatient addiction services as well as just giving them support and different information they will need in the community."

The hotline has faced some delays that pushed back its opening date. Officials with the Department of Health tell 7 Eyewitness News the Verizon strike made it difficult to get an actual phone line up and running. 

According to officials with Crisis Services, it took longer than expected to find a group of qualified candidates to serve as addiction counselors.