Featured on: WNYT New Channel 13
Story by: Nia Hamm
Saratoga Springs — Staff at Saratoga Stadium in Saratoga Springs expect huge crowds at the sports bar for Super Bowl Sunday.
Featured on: WNYT New Channel 13
Story by: Nia Hamm
Saratoga Springs — Staff at Saratoga Stadium in Saratoga Springs expect huge crowds at the sports bar for Super Bowl Sunday.
September 30, 2016
Seen on: WNYT New Channel 13
Story by: Nia Hamm
Full coverage can be found here: http://wnyt.com/news/fundraiser-shines-light-on-opioid-epidemic-in-saratoga-co—–/4279006/
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “We’re just hoping to help someone avoid where we are,” said Kevin Provost.
Provost and his wife, Maureen, lost their son, Dan, 2 and a half years ago.
He would have celebrated a birthday this Monday but died of a heroin overdose.
“He was ready he went through detox,” Maureen said. “Came out of detox and couldn’t find another facility, an inpatient facility to take him,” she said.
The Provosts joined dozens for an art show and fundraiser Friday evening for The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council of Saratoga County.
Executive Director Janine Stuchin said the opioid epidemic has a grip on the community.
“We have in this county at least 30 people a week who are having non-fatal overdoses but are being treated by emergency medical services,” Stuchin said.
Attorney Andrew Deluca, who hosted the event at his Saratoga Springs office, said he’s seen a spike in the number of his clients who are addicted to heroin.
“A large reason for their crimes are because they’re addicted to heroin,” DeLuca said. “And I see a lot of them being sent to state prison and once they get clean they’re a different person,” he said.
The Provosts believe the biggest barrier to recovery is access to treatment.
“When an individual is ready to go in to enter the recovery phase they need to do it then,” Maureen said. “They can’t wait the six weeks or eight weeks for, for a bed,” she said.
Prevention Council board member Brian Farr is 20 years sober and is hoping to change the conversation about addiction.
“…getting rid of the guilt and the shame and the stigma that people face and not just people suffering from addiction but their families as well,” he said.
“Trying to do a small part I think is all we’re doing but we need people to step up,” Ken said.
Story By: Wendy Liberatore
Seen in: The Times Union
Link to full article: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Art-show-benefit-to-battle-Saratoga-heroin-crisis-9465159.php
Attorney Andrew DeLuca says many of his clients are compelled into a cycle of crime, not because they want to be, but because of an addiction. And few addictions are more insidious than that of heroin.
To call attention to their plight, he’s hosting an art show Friday, with proceeds benefiting the city’s Prevention Council.
“The crimes they commit are linked to their addiction,” said the Saratoga Springs defense lawyer. “They will do anything to get it. Most are intelligent individuals who feel terrible about what they did. They just can’t help themselves.”
Over the years, DeLuca has seen an increase in the number of clients who are hooked on heroin. He calls it an epidemic, and Saratoga Springs police agree. In the Spa City, the police say they “routinely arrest people in possession of heroin and needles.” They also respond to 25 to 30 opioid overdoses a year and see between four and six people die in the city annually from opioid use.
Slaying the Dragon
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Law Office of Andrew DeLuca, 9 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs
The county numbers are higher. Saratoga County emergency medical services receives 30 opioid overdose calls a week, according to the Prevention Council. In 2015, it was 14 calls. In 2013, it was five. Nationally, the Center for Disease Control estimates 78 people a day die from opioid overdose.
The growing numbers prompted DeLuca to team with the Prevention Council in what both hope will raise awareness and funding to reduce opioid addiction. They are hosting Slay the Dragon, an art show and benefit for the council from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in DeLuca’s office, 9 Maple Ave. Funds for art sold will go toward the council’s efforts to educate youth and parents as well as training to use Narcan, the drug that reverses an opioid overdose. Last year, the Prevention Council trained and handed out Narcan kits to 75 people throughout the county.
“Family members with an addict living with them really need Narcan,” said Janine Stuchin, the executive director of the Prevention Council. “It saves lives.”
Friday’s event, organized by art promoter Gabriela Delattibodier Wright, features work by many of the area’s best known artists. Among them are sculptors John Van Alstine and Noah Savett as well as painters Tom Myott and Zack Lobdell. DeLuca is also showing two works from his personal collection — both depict arrest mug shots — one of Dennis Hopper and one of Robert Downey, Jr. He feels they are appropriate as both overcame addiction and rose to the top of their profession. He also points to a charcoal drawing of Kurt Cobain, who battled addiction and then sadly took his own life.
“They all struggled with addiction, but Kurt Cobain did not get the help he needed,” said DeLuca.
Of course, the Prevention Council hopes that its educational programs will prevent anyone from sinking into the horrors of addiction. The council is known for its work with youth, counseling and leading substance abuse awareness classes in every school in the county. The nonprofit also trains bartenders and servers on responsible drinking, attends court-mandated victim impact panels, reaches out to problem gamblers, hosts drug take-back programs and educates children on handling bullies and staying safe on the internet. As its name implies, the main mission is prevention.
“People think there is a stereotype for an addict,” said Stuchin. “There isn’t. Addiction is an equal opportunity disease.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS: In celebration of recovery from addiction and other mental health issues, members of Recovery Advocacy in Saratoga and The Prevention Council of Saratoga Springs will be holding a half-mile walk from The Spirit of Life fountain in Congress Park across Broadway to the new Tree of Hope at High Rock Park.
The free event begins at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner and other local community leaders will provide welcoming remarks. Following the walk, there will be a brief ceremony to commemorate the Tree of Hope.
Janine Stuchin, executive director of the Prevention Council, said, “Historically the High Rock area and its springs have been a place to gather and promote healing; we are honored to continue in that tradition.”
More than 1,000 events are planned across the country to celebrate recovery.
Recovery Advocacy in Saratoga is local, volunteer-based movement for recovery that tries to reduce the stigma of addiction and promotes wellness in long-term recovery by changing public perception of the disease and those affected by it.
September 13, 2016
Seen in: The Daily Gazette
Story by: Cady Kuzmich
Link to full article: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2016/sep/13/heroin-opioid-demo-spreads-overdose-knowledge/
Helping heroin addicts stay safe and get help is personal for Project Safe Point’s Alfonso Ferrara.
When he was born, he was born in detox.
“I come from a family of addicts. My mother got clean as soon as I was born so I grew up in the recovery phase,” said Ferrara. “I’ve seen what addiction does. I’m not there telling them ‘no.’ I’m there to make them safe.”
He led a heroin and opioid overdose prevention demonstration at the Clifton Park – Halfmoon Library on Moe Road Monday evening, September 12.
Ferrara studied psychology at SUNY Albany and has been working on education initiatives with Project Safe Point for about four months.
About two dozen community members, including concerned family members and retired nurses, gathered in a small conference room to learn how to properly administer NARCAN to help save someone who has overdosed. Some of those in the room worked with addicts professionally, witnessed overdoses or have a loved one who is addicted to heroin. Everyone who attended the event was given a NARCAN kit to take home.
A retired nurse from Schenectady, who wished to remain anonymous, described stopping at the scene of an overdose on Balltown Road in Niskayuna on August 12. “I was on my way to the bank and saw the police pulled over. I told them I’m a nurse and asked if I could help. They pulled the man from his car. He was grey and blue. We gave him CPR for 17 minutes but he was too far gone. He was 49 years old. The police were all out of NARCAN,” she said.
Another woman expressed worry and concern for her stepson, who is an addict.
Project Safe Point, which falls under Catholic Charities, embraces the notion of harm reduction. According to their website, practical harm reduction incorporates “a spectrum of strategies: from safer use, to managed use to abstinence to meet drug users ‘where they’re at,’ addressing conditions of use along with the use itself.”
Project Safe Point facilitates a needle exchange program so drug users have the option to use sterile needles rather than reusing their old ones. “If 10 syringes cost 10 dollars at CVS, they’re going to reuse their old syringes. When people are really addicted, they keep using so they don’t feel sick all the time. Withdrawal won’t kill you, but it can feel like it’s killing you,” Ferrara added.
During his demonstration on how to administer NARCAN, Ferrara discussed the difference between a “heavy nod” and an overdose. If a drug user is in a heavy nod, simply enjoying their high and ignoring the outside world rather than having overdosed, Ferraro said announcing you are about to administer NARCAN may help snap them out of it. NARCAN effectively throws the drug user into withdrawal, according to Ferrara.
If you find an individual who might have overdosed, you should check their responsiveness. A firm sternum rub should wake anyone who is simply in a heavy nod. If the individual is unresponsive even after a sternum rub, Ferraro said the next step is calling 911. If you need to leave the room in order to call 911, place the individual in a safety position on their side before leaving the room. After calling 911, begin administering NARCAN. Inject the drug into a large muscle like the upper arm, thigh or butt. It should take about two to three minutes to kick in, so you will need to do CPR while you wait to see if it took effect. If the individual is still unresponsive after the first three minutes, try administering another dose of NARCAN. “It can’t hurt you,” said Ferrara.
The NARCAN kit comes with two vials of NARCAN and two big-tipped syringes. The syringes feature big tips so they can pierce through clothing if necessary. Ferrara advised those who would be administering NARCAN to avoid getting air in the syringe. Since NARCAN is injected into large muscles rather than veins and time is of the essence in overdose scenarios, Ferraro said not to worry too much about minor air bubbles.
Once the NARCAN begins working, the individual will likely take a big gasp of air and begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms — it’s likely they will want more opiates. Ferraro said remaining calm and using simple, straight-forward messages is key.
Ferraro noted the NARCAN kits shouldn’t be exposed to extreme temperatures, so storing the kit in a car wouldn’t be ideal. He suggested tucking the small blue kit in a backpack or a purse.
Another method of responding to an overdose involves a nasal spray, but Ferrara said a shortage has prevented Project Safe Point from being able to distribute them to the public. For those who might have access to the nasal spray, Ferrara said it’s important to only spray half of the dose in each nostril so it can be properly absorbed.
Heroin addiction has been a growing problem in upstate New York. The number of people upstate seeking treatment for heroin addiction increased by 222 percent from 2004 to 2013 — that’s 86 percent higher than the spike in heroin-related treatments statewide in that same time frame, according to James Norton of the Southern Saratoga County Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council
The number of heroin-related fatalities in the United States has nearly tripled since 2010, according to the Center for Disease Control. The demographic most at risk for heroin addiction are people ages 18 to 25, said Norton. Heroin use “more than doubled” among that demographic in the last 10 years, according to the CDC.
Recovery group highlights health, strength of members
Recovery Advocacy in Saratoga aims to roll back stigma around addiction
January 6, 2016
Story By Claire Hughes
Featured in The Times Union
“I’m a person in long-term recovery.”
That phrase, or something like it, was heard over and over as a couple dozen members of the year-old group RAIS introduced themselves at a recent meeting at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.
By “recovery,” RAIS members mean they are staying free from the alcohol and drugs that once overran their lives. But you won’t hear them say this: “I’m Bill, and I’m an alcoholic” or “I’m Cindy, and I’m an addict.”
That’s by design, and one indication that Recovery Advocacy in Saratoga is different from a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
For one, members choose language that highlights the healthy lives they lead rather than the disease of addiction they must manage every day.
For another, they are not withholding their identities, but breaking a tradition of silence.
“We need to speak louder, and we need to speak longer,” said Brian Farr, the group’s chairperson.
The impetus to launch RAIS was the 2013 documentary “The Anonymous People,” which confronts the tradition of anonymity in addiction support groups. Filmmaker Greg Williams questions why he should be ashamed to tell people that he is managing the chronic disease of addiction.
The film advocates for a recovery movement that follows the model set three decades ago by AIDS activists who refused to quietly be denied treatment due to the stigma associated with their illness. Treatment of gay people improved once they spoke up, said Janine Stuchin, who participates in RAIS as executive director of the Saratoga Springs-based Prevention Council.
As a recovery community organization, RAIS is part of a growing movement to create a “culture of recovery” that permits people to speak about their disease so they can get help, Farr said. Their goal is not support but advocacy.
“This group is about action,” he said.
In the last year, RAIS has screened “The Anonymous People” and other recovery-themed movies at the library, held a candlelight vigil in Congress Park on National Overdose Awareness Day, traveled to Washington, D.C., for a rally to support the recovery movement, and brought together people involved in addiction and recovery issues.
Stuchin likens the environment they hope to create to support that exists for other chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart conditions.
Public understanding of addiction as a chronic illness is another goal, Stuchin said. Like diabetics, addicts sometimes fall off their diet and exercise regimen and need help to get back on track, Stuchin pointed out. Addicts who relapse need a similar response.
“No one says this to a diabetic: ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe you can’t manage your diabetes,'” Stuchin said.
Not all members of RAIS are in recovery. Some have family members who have struggled with addiction, or, like Stuchin, represent service providers.
Among the group in mid-December were Maureen and Ken Provost of Saratoga Springs. The couple found their way to RAIS in May, after losing their 23-year-old son Dan to a heroin overdose in June 2014.
The Provosts knew of their son’s struggles, including challenges in getting treatment. Yet they were shocked by the overdose, which followed a period of sobriety. They did not cover up the cause of death at Dan’s funeral.
They like RAIS’ message of hope and acceptance, the idea that others could be helped if society were more open.
“We can’t let these deaths define their lives,” Maureen Provost said of her son and others. “They’re more than their addictions.”
August 31, 2015
Coverage on: CBS 6
Link to full video can be found : http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/candlelight-vigil-marks-international-overdose-awareness-day-28478.shtml
SARATOGA — A candlelight vigil in Congress Park marked International Overdose Awareness Day. The event, held at the Spirit of Life statue, was created in memory of those who have lost their battles with addiction. Advocates say drug overdose deaths in New York, mainly to prescription drugs, have increased 56 percent since 1999.
August 31, 2105
Photo and story by: Times Union
Link to photos can be found at: http://www.timesunion.com/news/slideshow/Capital-Region-photos-969/photo-8562770.php
People attend an overdose awareness candlelight vigil at the Spirit of Life Fountain in Congress Park on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The concern of rising heroin related deaths were especially addressed. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union)
August 31, 2015
Coverage on News 10
Link to full video can be found here: http://news10.com/2015/08/31/saratoga-vigil-to-bring-awareness-to-drug-addiction/
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A candlelight vigil was held in Saratoga Springs on Monday in honor of International Overdose Awareness Day.
The event was sponsored by the Recovery Advocacy in Saratoga group, or R.A.I.S. They encouraged members of the community to join them at the Spirit of Life statute in Congress Park to remember those who have lost their lives to drug addiction.
One by one people shared their stories of loved ones who were incarcerated or passed away due to addiction. Even those still struggling with addiction spoke out.
“For myself and hopes that my recovery continues to burn,” May Thomas of Schenectady said.
Thomas was addicted to cocaine.
“Being homeless, eating out of garbage cans,” she said of her addiction. ‘Going house to house. Selling your body. Getting in trouble with the law.”
Thomas has been clean for five years, but a close friend wasn’t so lucky.
“And I light this candle for Summer, the girl who I miss who died last year,” she said.
Summer died from an overdose at 31-years old eight months ago. Her mother, Kristin Hoin, is still trying to grasp the loss.
“I spoke to her the morning that she passed away,” Hoin said. “I know she’d been using spice, and we found out that there was PCP in her system.”
Hoin wants people to know the disease of addiction can strike anyone at any time.
“We lived in Guilderland, and that’s why I’m really out here to help stop the stigma because everybody does think it’s a disease that’s under the bridge,” she said. “And it’s not. It’s under out nose.”
But there is hope. For Thomas, her sobriety means a new relationship with her mother, happiness and giving back.
“Got my apartment,” she said. “I’m working, volunteering.”
Head to R.A.I.S for more information.
Featured in: The Saratogian
Story by: Lauren Mineau
Link to full article can be found here: http://www.saratogian.com/lifestyle/20150430/prevention-council-effort-strives-to-educate-on-dangers-of-heroin#author1
SARATOGA SPRINGS >> Heroin was once an inner city drug, but it has now surged into suburban communities and members of The Prevention Council are hoping to raise awareness about the battle with addiction.
The Prevention Council hosted a forum Tuesday night for an age group most likely to experiment with the drug – high school students and young adults.
Maigan Richardson of Ballston Spa shared her story at Saratoga Springs High School as part of a discussion about the local heroin epidemic as a whole.
Richardson recalled suffering an injury in high school and being prescribed medication for the pain, but said her doctors never told her about the dangers of the opiate-based painkillers. She said she soon began to develop a dependency, even after her injury had healed.
With heroin now available in a more pure form from Mexico and Brazil, more people are apt to try it and addiction can happen quickly.
“That purer form, people can get a high from it by snorting it or smoking it as opposed to injecting it” said Robin Lyle, director of outreach at the Saratoga area Prevention Council. “For some people, that eliminates a barrier that they might otherwise have to using it. People are not perceiving it as risky and harmful, as they used to, partially because the prescriptions are seen as medicine.”
Tuesday’s event was designed to educate parents and students about the drug. The Prevention Council has two more upcoming events to educate and inform about the dangers of heroin.
“They’re a bit of a captive audience,” Lyle said, “but I think right here is where the prevention can happen. It’s really important to get that message out now.”
On Thursday, April 30, Friends from Recovery Advocacy in Saratoga and The Prevention Council will host a recovery talk – a community listening forum on addiction on recovery. The event will be held at 7 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Community members are invited to share their stories of addiction and listen to others.