BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The new 24-hour addiction hotline serving Erie County – (716) 831-7007 – started at 8 a.m. last Monday, and as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, 214 people had called Crisis Services for help.
"The first few days, we were seeing mainly the person with the addiction calling in, which was a surprise to me, so that's leveled off," said Jessica Pirro, Crisis Services CEO. "More friends and family have increased this past week, but we still are getting people who are ready to seek help."
Pirro says the number one drug people are calling about is heroin, followed by opiates and then alcohol. Many of the other calls from parents looking for information and support.
"The goal of the hotline is to make sure we're linking people quickly, but also to the appropriate service, and those were some of the challenges we had heard leading up to setting up the hotline," Pirro said.
So far, 14 people have agreed to appointments with admission counselors from Renaissance Addiction Services. Of those, 9 showed up and were linked with treatment including detox, outpatient care, and rehab.
"If we've been able to help nine individuals in our community to prevent an overdose from happening, I think we've been successful so far, and we will continue to hope to see those numbers increase," said Pirro.
The same day the hotline became available, several local police departments opened their doors to those ready for treatment. Basically, anyone who wants help and doesn't have a warrant can go to one of the participating agencies and be referred to care.
"What makes our program unique versus other cities, in our area you can contact the Crisis Services hotline directly and get a referral that way," said Lt. Jeff Rinaldo, Buffalo Police Department.
While no one has come in person, the Buffalo Police Department has received numerous calls from people seeking help for themselves or a loved one.
"Before, a lot of what we heard from the public was that it was very hard to find those resources, now with the Crisis Services hotline number, those services are at your fingertips." Rinaldo said.
Crisis Services is still recruiting employees to speak to callers. They need three hotline counselors and program supervisor - apply here.