In their ongoing effort to better understand and inform others of the social, economic, environmental, and political issues facing the United States and the world, the Yates Progressives invited a panel of diverse experience to discuss the rising heroin and opioid drug abuse problem in our region.
Convening at Hunt Country Vineyards Sunday, Nov. 19, the panelists were Penn Yan Police Chief Tom Dunham, Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency (FLACRA) medical advisor Dr. Jane McCaffrey, FLACRA Peer Counsellor Dale Foster, and Yates County Drug Treatment Court volunteers Rich Stewart and Tom Close.
An everyday event
Dunham described some of the elements law enforcement agencies believe have contributed to the problem. The clean needle exchange program, while well-intentioned to decrease the spread of disease, has made things more difficult for police. The increase in intravenous drug use in Yates County has gone “from non-existent to every day,” says Dunham. Penn Yan Police officers responded to heroin overdoses by administering Narcan (an opioid antagonist that reverses the overdose) nine separate times in 2016 – and they are on pace to go past that number in 2017.