On Monday, 1/29/18 NINE Rainmakers headed to Albany to advocate for the #EndOverdoseNY Campaign. We had an AMAZING time!
We attended a legislative briefing in the morning and I was asked to speak there as a family member and upstate NY Advocate, so I shared what was going on in, this is what I had to say:
“In Upstate NY:
– Our treatment centers are a total abstinence based system.
– People are discharged from treatment for ‘noncompliance’ which could even be smoking a cigarette. And I told about our Rainmaker Anna‘s son Tim who was discharged from a facility for smoking and died that night from a heroin overdose.
– There’s an 18 month wait list for the methadone clinic and outpatient clinics have been known to tell young women, that if they get pregnant, they can get a slot much easier.
– To get into some of our upstate NY Suboxone programs people have to prove “they want it badly enough” in some cases even being forced to write essays about why they should be granted access to the program. Could you imagine if someone with diabetes had to write an essay to receive insulin? We cannot tolerate this.
– In Upstate NY, rural communities have very little access to treatment and even less to Harm Reduction and they live in communities where they are at the mercy of the pharmacist to provide them with clean syringes and where the stigma is strong, in many cases, they do not.
– Did you know across all of New York, it is optional for EMS agencies to carry Naloxone? We have brought this to the attention to our lawmakers over and over again and we have YET to see a bill introduced mandating that it be carried. Why does this matter? Because in Upstate NY, in many rural communities, the EMS agencies prefer NOT to save the life of a substance user and therefore still refuse to carry Naloxone, in the middle of a health care crisis. Imagine that?
– Across New York it is OPTIONAL for schools to have Naloxone on premises even with the rise of opioid use among young people. And in Upstate NY, many schools do NOT have it on premises.
– In Upstate NY the war on drugs is alive and thriving! We have rogue DA’s, Sheriffs and small town police agencies out to pad their resumes with the arrest and conviction of those addicted and suffering. We memorialized 89 people in our Trail of Truth walk for those lost to substance use related causes and over 50% of them had served time incarcerated at some point in time. Many of them losing their lives shortly after being released from jail or prison.
– In Upstate NY, as public compassion increases, police agencies are DOUBLING down, increasing rhetoric ESPECIALLY as it relates to “drug dealers”. And outrageous things are happening, such as a recent arrest in our area by a guy who is addicted and sold TWO baggies, a street value of $20, who now faces a sentence of THREE years in State Prison.
– In Upstate NY, police are using surveillance around the homes of where overdoses have occurred.
– In Upstate NY, racism is alive and thriving and the numbers of our own county jail prove that. In Broome County, persons of color make up less than 5% of our population, but make up 28% of our jail population. And many police agencies exploit the arrests of persons of color by posting them on social media as bragging rights.
– In Upstate NY, in our county jail, SEVENTY FIVE percent of the population is made up of UNCONVICTED persons. By law, innocent!
– In Upstate NY, you a jail sentence could be a DEATH sentence, in particular in Broome County FIVE people have died in 5 years in our jail, 2 that we know of were from improper detox.
– In Upstate NY and in particular, our county, for years we have watched the budget to the health department, social services, the public defender and mental health get cut… while we have inflated the budgets of the Sheriff’s Department, the DA and even the Coroner.
That is what is going on in Upstate NY and why we must continue to fight!