Black Balloon Day bringing awareness to overdose epidemic

Mar 6, 2017

On a daily basis, neighborhoods across the country are hit with news of another fatal overdose caused by heroin or other opiates. However, often lost behind the news are the stories of families and other loved ones left behind.


Monday evening at 6 p.m., members of the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force, along with the West Side Development Coalition, will remember and pay tribute to those who have succumbed to opioid addiction and those remaining still trying to cope with the loss.

A display of black balloons will drape across Old Erie County Hall on Franklin Street downtown to increase awareness of the daily struggles of addiction.

It is part of a nationwide commemoration. The initiative asks anyone who has been affected by addition to fly a black balloon outside their house to demonstrate the extent of the problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of drug overdose deaths - more than six out of ten - involve an opioid. Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled.

From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. That translates to 91 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose.

The CDC says nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids - drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone - have more than quadrupled since 1999.