February 9, 2016

Featured in: The Post Star

Story by: Michael Goot

MOREAU:The Community Coalition for Family Wellness is stepping up its efforts to get unused prescription medications out of cabinets and away from young people.

A survey of 150 young adults ages 18 to 25 found that 6 percent said they used narcotics and 3 percent used tranquilizers. The numbers were 2 percent forheroin and 0 percent for tranquilizers.

A total of 66 percent said it is “very easy” or “somewhat easy” to obtain prescription pain relievers and stimulants. Fifty percent said they get prescription pain relievers from their own home and 44 percent said they get them from someone else’s home, and 48 percent said heroin is easy to obtain.

The coalition, which is made up of several community members and organizations, including the South Glens Falls Central School District and the Prevention Council of Saratoga County, is targeting prescription drug and heroin abuse. It has obtained funding through two grants — a Partnership for Success grant from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and the Drug Free Communities Support Grant — until 2018.

James Norton, coordinator for the Partnership for Success Grant, said more needs to be done to get rid of surplus medications besides drug take-back days. He said he has spoken with officials at the Drug Enforcement Administration, who said there no longer needs to be a 24-hour police presence to have a medication dropoff box.

Coalition members were encouraged by that.

“It would be nice to have a permanent dropbox in the area where people could get rid of excess prescription drug medications at their leisure,” said Jenn Wood, director of coalition development and community outreach.

Norton said another concerning statistic is that 18- to 25-year-olds are far more likely to drive high than drunk.

 He said local police agencies need drug recognition experts so they can make driving while impaired by drugs cases stick.

Other initiatives are to increase access to Narcan trainings to prevent overdoses and educate youths and families on addiction, treatment services and recovery options.

“It’s pretty exciting to see some of this come to fruition,” Wood said.

Kait Downey, youth and data specialist for the coalition, also updated the group on the state of the South High after-prom party. They are still trying to nail down a venue somewhere between the prom’s location — The Sagamore — and South Glens Falls.

“Our junior class really shuns alcohol use, so we think we might have a pretty good number this year,” she said.

The event would be free of charge to prom attendees.

“We want to see the kids making safe choices on prom night,” she said.

Also, Wood is taking over as director of coalition development and community outreach for the Prevention Council of Saratoga County. She replaces the retiring Robin Lyle. The coalition is in the process of filling Wood’s coalition coordinator position.