Another NON-good news story – but, again – it’s necessary. 7 deaths in 24 hours. Please DON’T judge.

March 30, 2017

Written By

Mary Friona Celani

It is gut-wrenching. It is unbearable. It is unbelievable. We are clearly LOSING the war on drugs. It’s a loss that way too many are feeling, way too deeply.

Just a few moments ago, Erie County Health Department officials made the horrific announcement. Seven people died in the last 24 hours from a deadly batch of heroin. SEVEN. In 24 hours. Seven families are grieving their brother, sister, mother, father, son or daughter. Seven families are feeling pain that we can’t even imagine.

Oh, and if you think these are just a bunch of ‘junkies’ that died because they decided to play with fire, you’re wrong. These are human beings. These are people with families who love them. These are people who wanted a good life. People who had plans and dreams. People who made a bad choice and their body and soul got sucked in with addiction.

They deserve our compassion and sympathy. Not our judgement.

Forget about the image that you might have in your head of drug addicts. This is a new day. These are young people with so much potential. People who’ve likely tried to stop. Who may have wanted to stop. Who have loved ones that would have done anything to get them help. Anything.

If you consider them just a group of worth-less junkies, then you probably do not have any experience with addiction. Consider yourself lucky. Very lucky. But, don’t judge. Do. Not. Judge. This could be your son. Your daughter. If you don’t think so, I am sorry to tell you – come out of your head and into the real world.

Nobody wants to grow up, lose their way, shove a needle in their arm, and die. NOBODY. Smokers die from cancer and we don’t treat them like garbage. People die from obesity-related diseases and we don’t treat them like garbage.

Last year (in Erie County) 320 people died from opioid overdoses. So far this year – in ERIE COUNTY – 55 people died because of opioids. Many more in Niagara County. No, it’s not a Buffalo thing. It’s not an inner city thing. Heroin does not discriminate. Heroin will kill someone in a wealthy suburban neighborhood in the blink of an eye.

Can you even imagine if 55 people died this year from a serial killer? Can you imagine if a disease took the lives of 55 people? If a fire ripped through a school or office building and killed 55 people, we’d cry, take up collections, share stories for days. Something would be done. Not more studies. Not more commissions. Not more talk. Something would be done.

If you have a loved one who you fear may be addicted to heroin, please – at least tell them about this deadly batch of the drug. It is laced with something, although, right now, it is unclear what.

Those who supplied these seven people with the heroin need to be charged with murder. And the courts need to send them away for life. We have to be tougher. That’s a start.

If you want to make change – contact your elected officials. If you’re not sure who they are – text your zip code to 1-520-200-2223. You will get a response with your lawmakers and their contact information. It is EASY. Then tell them that something needs to be done.

***** If you suffer from a drug addiction help is available. Erie County’s 24 hour hotline at 716-831-7007. 



About Me

Welcome to Totally Buffalo! My name is Mary Friona-Celani and I am the creator of this site! After spending 20 years in the Buffalo media, I moved on to focus on my beautiful family. Now, the time has come for a new project. I was ready for something new. Something mine.
I am born and raised in WNY and my pride runs deep. My husband, Scott and I are very happy to be raising our four daughters here.






  1. Avatar

    Mary, thank you for your excellent article. We lost our beautiful son, Rob, a brother, uncle, nephew, friend in just this way. I appreciate your words urging readers NOT TO JUDGE.
    We lived your discriptions and Rob fought so hard to defeat this monster.
    You are describing a medical model and way of seeing that opioid addiction is a disease. Diseases must be treated. We are failing because we have devoted so few resources for appropriate treatment.
    The “War on Drugs” is an abject failure because it is based on a moral model of condemnation and punishment.

  2. Avatar

    Thank you, Mary, for this report.
    My friend and former coworker Julie is one of those wonderful people who has lost loved ones to this war. In December 2016, she lost her beautiful younger adult son, only 51 weeks after losing her beloved older son to the same war. When any of us stops to try to imagine such an impact on our own lives, we cannot bear the searing agony for more than a moment. My friend Julie gets up each morning to spend her days helping our county’s children and their parents and caregivers, with her own heart bereft and breaking. I cannot imagine life without my own son Ryan and my precious daughter in law, Tara. We – all of us – are connected in more ways than we realize. We – all of us – are all affected by this war and must take up whatever arms fit us well.

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