Group details heroin use at Dundee forum

Gwen Chamberlain The Chronicle-Express
Wager

Continuing its mission to provide information to the public about preventing herion use in the community, the Yates Substance Abuse Coalition held its second community forum Jan. 28 at Dundee Central School.

About 100 people turned out to learn more about the challenges the growing use of the illicit drug is bringing the Yates County community.

A good portion of the forum was devoted to the increasing number of criminal cases handled by local law enforcement and courts, the personal stories of a young man and his mother whose lives have been forever changed by the drug.

As promised by organizers, more information about treatment and recovery was shared during this gathering. Unfortunately, for someone in crisis, getting the help that’s needed may take some time, with people waiting two to three weeks for an appointment.

Susan Wager of FLACRA (Finger Lakes Addictions Counseling & Referral Agency) provided information about the services available through the local organization that serves five counties, including Yates.

Wager explained different treatment types are available, including outpatient, inpatient, detox, and residential. Individual and group therapies are also used, and some prescription medications like Suboxone and Vivitrol can be available.

She said those medications can’t be used without involving a physician or nurse practitioner.

“People call and want medications right away, and it just doesn’t happen that way,” she said.

She urged parents to be involved in the process from the beginning, and to insist on being listed as someone who can get information about the person’s care and progress. Laws prohibit clinicians from discussing the case of anyone over 18 years old unless they give specific approval.

“There is no better predictor of success than family involvement,” she said.

The mother of a young Penn Yan man stressed that point as well. As one of the featured speakers, she described the hardship her family has gone through because of her son’s addiction to heroin.

Her son has been sober for six months after spending time in a residential treatment facility, after relapsing following an attempt at counseling and outpatient treatment. He said getting sober through an outpatient program is difficult because the withdrawal symptoms are so hard to endure.

After describing his progression of drug use from smoking marijuana at age 14 to experimenting with cocaine, LSD and other substances to snorting, then injecting heroin, he said he had to hit rock bottom before he would agree to seek help.

“Addicts are not bad people. I’m a sick person trying to get better,” he said.

“I was empty inside. I had to hit my bottom. I had crossed every line I’d set for myself,” he explained.

According to Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike, heroin abuse is up 75 percent in just the past three years, and public safety and public health officials have had increased challenges. He called heroin abuse a health crisis that cuts across geographic, social, racial, and economic boundaries.

“In some areas of the U.S., overdose deaths are exceeding fatal car crashes, which was always the number one killer of young adults,” he said.

More than 4.2 million people 12 and older have tried heroin, and 23 percent of them become addicted, according to Spike.

The coalition has developed a website and Facebook page, where information will be updated periodically. Check the website at http://yatessac.weebly.com/ to find answers to questions that were turned in at the forum but not addressed that night.

The coalition was formed last year after families approached public health and law enforcement officials about addressing drug problems in the area.

A year of drug related activity in Yates County

January

18-year-old male arrested in the Town of Milo for drugs provided to two 14-year-old girls; both hospitalized.

17-year-old female overdoses on prescription opiates.

February

19-year-old Penn Yan female violates drug court order and smuggles heroin into the county jail, concealing it inside her body.

22-year-old Dundee female arrested in Benton for possession of heroin on her return trip from Rochester.

March

21-year-old Penn Yan female overdoses on heroin and is taken to Soldiers & Sailors Hospital.

Three from Penn Yan, ages 22 and 23 are arrested on North Clinton Ave. in Rochester for heroin possession.

April

22-year-old female in Dundee arrested for possession of heroin and hypodermic needles.

911 call for 50-year-old overdosed on heroin in Penn Yan.

A man from Penn Yan and a man from Dundee were arrested on North Clinton Ave. in Rochester for possession of heroin.

20-year-old male in Jerusalem overdoses on heroin and survives after being taken to S&S hospital.

Deputies discover 32-year-old female unconscious from opiate drug overdose in Penn Yan.

May

44-year old man overdoses on opiate drugs in the Town of Barrington.

Town of Starkey jewelry larceny. Deputies charge a relative for pawning items to buy drugs.

23-year-old Penn Yan female arrested in Rochester for possession of heroin.

Penn Yan resident finds a discarded syringe with heroin residue in it.

June

911 call for a 20-year-old in Jerusalem who has overdosed on heroin. Deputies find heroin baggies, needles, spoon, etc.

28-year-old Dundee female arrested by deputies for possession of opiate drugs.

28-year-old man arrested by deputies in the Town of Milo for opiate drug possession.

August

Deputies arrest a 24-year-old during a traffic stop in Benton when a K9 finds 90 small micro baggies of heroin and other drugs. Investigation shows he was returning to Penn Yan after a purchase in Rochester.

27 and 35-year-old men arrested stealing tools at two Benton businesses to support heroin addiction.

September

21-year-old Penn Yan man arrested on felony charges of possession of heroin with intent to sell in Ontario County on his way back to Penn Yan from Rochester.

45-year-old Jerusalem female overdoses on heroin and dies in her home. Heroin and other drug paraphernalia was found.

October

22-year-old man is dropped off at the S&S parking lot after overdosing on heroin. A dose of Narcan was administered, saving his life.

Four DWAI drug arrests made by deputies in Jerusalem, Dundee, Milo and Benton. One subject had heroin in the blood. Analysis showed it was combined with cocaine and a veterinarian deworming medication.

20-year-old man arrested by Penn Yan police after a search warrant of his home finds 242 micro baggies of heroin, needles, etc. He was bailed out of jail on $25,000 cash.

November

32-year-old female overdoses on heroin in Milo near the village limits. 911 dispatcher gives CPR instructions, and Penn Yan police administer narcan, saving her life. Deputies seize a locked box of substances.

NYS Department of Transportation workers find seven used hypodermic needles in the grass at the scenic overlook parking area on State Route 54A near Esperanza Drive.

46-year-old female from Geneva is arrested on State Rte. 14 in Starkey when deputies found 120 micro baggies of heroin and $700 in cash under the front seat of the car. She gave a false identification and was indicted by a grand jury in December.

A Yates County jail inmate who is a heroin addict has a serious arm infection at injection site and is admitted to Geneva General Hospital under jail guard.

53-year-old female is arrested on Hoyt Road in Milo and charged with DWAI-drugs for heroin and marijuana.

December

Investigators arrest a 36-year-old male for 7th degree possession of heroin in connection to the overdose call in Milo in November.

Four subjects were arrested by deputies for DWI in Italy, Middlesex, Milo and Penn Yan. All had possession of drugs while driving while intoxicated.

Source: Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike