Camillus Coalition Tries to Stay Ahead of Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

Feb 28, 2017

West Genesee Superintendent Dr. Chris Brown, left, chats with a presenter at the event.
Credit Provided photo / Bonnie Russell, West Genesee Schools

The Superintendent of West Genesee Schools says the number of overdoses and deaths from the heroin and opioid epidemic has recently climbed back up in the community after a noticeable drop last year.   Dr. Christopher Brown hopes the help offered at Monday evening's addiction, recovery, and resource  can bring crime and addiction rates down.

"Maybe that help being provided prevents a shoplifting or prevents an overdose or prevents something related to this epidemic.  So when we meet again, our group meets again in the spring, we're going to be looking at that kind of data to see have we truly made a systemic difference in the problem."

Camillus Police Chief Thomas Winn was on hand.
Credit Provided photo / Bonnie Russell, West Genesee Schools

At least 500 people turned out for the event, which was put on by the Camillus Community Coalition on Substance Abuse.  It was aimed at reaching those affected by the heroin and opioid epidemic.

"Everyone knows  someone that either is an addict or has an issue and is on their way to becoming an addict or is just in the process of getting to be in over their head and they're trying to reach out for whatever resource they can."

Brown says heroin and opioid addictions are affecting children at the elementary level, who are talking to drug and alcohol counselors.

Credit Provided photo / Bonnie Russell, West Genesee Schools

"A lot of them are talking about how their parents or maybe an older sibling, they're involved in using opioids or other kinds of drugs that are becoming abusive in the home or aren't providing food, that kind of thing, and that's been on the uptick for us in this community.

Brown says heroin and opioid addictions are actually rare among his district’s high school students, although marijuana, alcohol, and some prescription drug use is not unusual.   But Brown says those behaviors often lead to addictions as graduates.

"Some of the students that we've seen who have graduated who have really spiraled out of control, these are students who were some of our top performers now who can barely get out of bed in the morning because they're so addicted or even worse have actually died from overdoses," said Brown. "So it's really, I think, anything we can do and if we reach one person that's good for me, but we're trying to reach as many as we can."

Brown says differences are being made, even outside of the community. Congressman John Katko sat on a panel at last year’s forum, and shortly after made several legislative changes to help addicts get treatment.