Art show, benefit to battle Saratoga heroin crisis

Benefit to focus on addiction aid educational program.

Story By: Wendy Liberatore

Seen in: The Times Union

Link to full article:
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.
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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.”