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Panel Discussion Aims to Confront the Opioid Epidemic in Central New York

A panel of medical experts and Central New Yorkers with personal connections to the opioid epidemic will gather Thursday, October 25 in Skaneateles to discuss the ongoing crisis.  The program is the first in a “Master Class Series” being presented by St. James Episcopal Church.

Event organizer Christine Krahling says addiction can hit people from all walks of life.

“The face of addiction is different than what most think it is. When you think about people struggling with these issues you have a picture in your head of who and what they are and that’s not necessarily the case. I think people would be surprised if they looked deeper into their relationships and the people that they know or maybe people they worked with.  Somebody seems to know someone who is struggling with addiction.”       

Krahling is encouraged by the declining number of overdose deaths, but is not convinced the downward trend will continue. Panelist Jordan Eubanks is a lead care specialist at Helio Health. He says stigma is the number one barrier to addicted people seeking help.

“Stigma prevents people from talking to their families about what’s going on with them because they are afraid that their families won’t understand. Stigma prevents people from being educated from the jump on what is essentially a health problem. They don’t see substance abuse disorder as being something that is treatable from a health point of view. Instead of looked at as a moral or ethical failing on the individual part.”

Eubanks focuses on treatment and recovery for addicts and has worked with over 550 people this year alone.  The majority of the patients he works with are addicted to opioids.  Eubanks says more addicts seem to feel comfortable utilizing recovery services.

“I think that is more indicative of getting the word out. We’re hitting the streets, talking with folks, letting that there are options. Just doing a lot of marketing and outreach like that to let people know that there is an option for them. Treatment and recovery is not inaccessible and that we’re here to make it easier for them to get to it, to connect to it.”

Eubanks will be one of five panelists on hand at St. James Episcopal Church in Skaneateles Thursday night, Oct. 25 at 7:30 pm.  For more informationclick here.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at