Our June 25, 2017 Letter to Broome County Executive Jason Garnar

We are tired of waiting for the county to take action. It is long past time for them to be responsible in their roles to protect the public. See our letter to County Executive Jason Garnar below. Be sure to click the news links to see what he thought should be done PRIOR to being elected.

We have been calling on the county to track and report overdose deaths and reversals since August of 2015. Here we are, nearly two years later, still waiting.

Call County Executive Garnar today and ask him when he’ll start doing all the things he was demanding of the last administration.

June 25, 2017

Jason Garnar
Broome County Executive
60 Hawley Street
Binghamton, NY 13901

Dear County Executive Jason Garnar,

On June 24, 2017 the Village of Johnson City Police issued a warning about a surge in heroin overdoses, including three fatalities. We thanked them for their proactive approach in alerting their community. Due to their proactive approach, Truth Pharm and STAP worked together to immediately respond by advertising, promoting and handing out life-saving Naloxone kits during a three-hour time-slot on Sunday. Twenty-four people were trained and obtained kits.

This is what the response to a public health emergency looks like.

Also, due to their proactive approach, the news media published stories about the overdoses and the handing out of Naloxone kits, which caused hundreds of people in Broome County to engage in conversations about the opioid epidemic. In addition, hundreds of people were educated about: the dangers of using alone; the need to call 911; a particularly strong or ‘bad’ batch of heroin that was circulating; harm reduction practices they could use to reduce overdoses; and the lifesaving medication Naloxone. Conversations that our community desperately needs. In addition, two people reached out to Truth Pharm and will be placed into inpatient treatment tomorrow.

On February 23, 2017 you attended our in-depth presentation to local elected officials outlining the dire need for both care and harm reduction approaches in Broome County. We also made it clear that tracking of overdose data – both deaths and successful revivals – is the responsibility of our county government and needs to be done accurately, consistently and actively reported to the public.

We have seen zero progress on this front. We have been making requests for this information since August of 2015, we are approaching two years since then, over one hundred deaths and thousands of overdoses with no change to the system.

Prior to being elected as County Executive, you agreed that the community should be notified. We have communications from you to us directly stating so and ridiculing the prior administration for not being responsible in doing so. And you made your opinion public to the media.  On August 12, 2016, WICZ started a report about overdoses with this line: “Broome County Executive Candidate Jason Garnar called for a public health warning on heroin overdoses Thursday night.” And later in the article included this as well, “Jason Garnar says it is a health risk when the public isn’t notified.” Garnar Calls for Public Health Warning   Garnar Wants Better Accounting by the County

On August 11, 2016, in an article published by the Press & Sun Bulletin: “First and foremost, Broome County needs to declare a public health emergency,” said Garnar, the Democrat challenging Preston in the November election. But “what I’m more concerned about is it seems our county executive is not saying anything about this. We should be doing everything possible to get the word out there that something is out there that is killing people left and right.” The website for that article includes a video of you stating how important it is for the County Executive to release CURRENT information to the public in order to save lives.  Garnar calls on Broome to Declare Opioid Emergency

It is nearly one year since you made those strong statements and you’ve been in office for six months. But, where is your action? Why aren’t you releasing notices to the public? You are now the one responsible to ensure the public is notified.

As we have in the past, we could provide multiple examples of other counties in New York State who are actively tracking and releasing overdose data, but we trust you can google and immediately find plenty of results just as easily as we can.

We also know this data already exists for the county. We recently learned that the county is planning to participate in a program to release all overdose data (deaths and reversals) to a mapping program run by the DEA. That mapped data will not be accessible by the public, but is utilized in drug investigations. We are beyond sickened to learn that the county is choosing to participate in an enforcement and further criminalization program as their priority over participating in issuing public health warnings and participating in harm reduction practices with data you ALREADY HAVE.

Your goal must be to save lives.

We are again requesting that the County Health Department immediately begin to take responsibility for counting the deaths of our loved ones due to substance use related causes and issuing that information to the public. This responsibility does not belong to the District Attorney, this is a health issue and belongs to our county health department.

We also want to remind you that funding from the state and federal government depends on accurately reporting both overdose and death data to state officials. We are being bypassed for funding, new programs and attention because our issues are not accurately reported.

Though it seems much of what was written in our letter of February 23, 2017, including working together cooperatively, has been ignored, we’ll attach the letter as a reminder of what we called for four months ago, please be sure to review request #3 which we’ll include below. The optimism we expressed in our letter is waning, but we as an organization continue to do the work necessary to save lives. You, as the County Executive, declared this opioid crisis a Public Health Emergency. With that declaration comes serious responsibility on your part.

  1. County Departments that responsibly track and publicize data in a timely manner including:
  • Naloxone uses by all departments and the number of doses required
  • Overdose deaths
  • Deaths by other causes, but linked to substance use
  • Criminal acts related to substance use disorders
  • Incarceration rates related to substance use disorders
  • Success rates of various forms of treatment
  • A public calendar of all events offered by providers, support groups and grassroots organizations
  • A comprehensive list of treatment options, modalities and services within our region, allowing individual organizations to add their information and website links

Sincerely,

Alexis Pleus
Founder and Executive Director

cc: Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, NYS Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker

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Broome County Support Groups

Southern Tier:

We just had a request to let someone know what support groups are available in our area, so here you go:

MUTUAL AID SUPPORT GROUPS:

Smart Recovery:
SMART Recovery is the leading self-empowering addiction recovery support group. Our participants learn tools for addiction recovery based on the latest scientific research and participate in a world-wide community which includes free, self-empowering, science-based mutual help groups.

The SMART Recovery 4-Point Program® helps people recover from all types of addiction and addictive behaviors, including: drug abuse, drug addiction, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, prescription drug abuse, sexual addiction, and problem addiction to other substances and activities. SMART Recovery sponsors face-to-face meetings around the world, and daily online meetings. In addition, our online message board and 24/7 chat room are excellent forums to learn about SMART Recovery and obtain addiction recovery support.

More information: http://www.smartrecovery.org/

Tuesdays 6:15pm
The HOPE 607 Project, Inc.
Broome County Urban League, 43-45 Carroll St
45 Carroll Street
13901 Binghamton New York
Main Contact:
Tim Giordani
Facilitator
+60 7-723 7303
EXT. 105
tgiordani@hope607.org

AA – Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous is a program of a new way of life without alcohol, a program that is working successfully for millions of men and women throughout the world, and in all walks of life. The experience of A.A. members is that alcoholism is a progressive disease that cannot be cured, but which can be arrested — by staying away from the first drink, one day at a time.

For more information and a list of meetings in the Southern Tier: https://aabinghamton.org/meetings.html

Email Us Anytime: sitemanager@aabinghamton.org
Email schedule changes to: schedule@aabinghamton.org
Email aa related events to post to: events@aabinghamton.org

Binghamton 607-722-5983
Cortland 607-753-1344
Ithaca 607-273-1541
Tioga County 800-307-4285

NA – Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous is a global, community-based organization with a multi-lingual and multicultural membership. NA was founded in 1953, and our membership growth was minimal during our initial twenty years as an organization. Since the publication of our Basic Text in 1983, the number of members and meetings has increased dramatically. Today, NA members hold nearly 67,000 meetings weekly in 139 countries. We offer recovery from the effects of addiction through working a twelve-step program, including regular attendance at group meetings. The group atmosphere provides help from peers and offers an ongoing support network for addicts who wish to pursue and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. Our name, Narcotics Anonymous, is not meant to imply a focus on any particular drug; NA’s approach makes no distinction between drugs including alcohol. Membership is free, and we have no affiliation with any organizations outside of NA including governments, religions, law enforcement groups, or medical and psychiatric associations.

For more information: http://www.na.org/

Local NA Chapter website with meeting list: http://www.tcana.net/

Triple Cities Area of Narcotics Anonymous ( TCANA )
PO Box 422, Binghamton, NY 13902-0422
(607)762-9116

Local Meeting list: http://www.tcana.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/TCANA22717.pdf

Brand New

A place to get clean and stay clean. Brand New meets every Tuesdays at 7pm at 1701 Riverview Dr, Endicott NY, Thursdays at 7 pm 90 Clinton St Binghamton NY. Groups for people battling drugs and alcohol or in recovery. Also a support group for the friends and family of the addict. We see real results and true freedom from addiction. We believe a life without drugs and alcohol should be exciting so we create positive outlets to have fun. Join us and Thrive in your recovery!

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1583552225231860/

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery is a biblical and balanced program that helps us overcome our hurts, hang-ups, and habits.  It is based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory.

Thursday 6:30 PM – Windsor Bible Baptist Church, 157 Depot Street, Windsor, New York 13865
 Contact Person – Bob Klock
Phone – 607-343-5112
E-Mail – Bobk4cr@gmail.com
 

Another way to search for support meetings: http://meetings.intherooms.com/meetings/search?latitude=42.098687&longitude=-75.917974&proximity=100

FAMILY SUPPORT

Truth Pharm – Garden of Hope

We have a monthly meeting called Garden of Hope which offers an educational component and then a time to share or ask questions. Special guest speakers  included. A different topic each month.  The 3rd Monday of every month at 6:30pm at Tabernacle Methodist Church, 83 Main St, Binghamton, NY – Enter through back. Watch our facebook page and website for details: www.truthpharm.org

Families Anonymous

Families Anonymous celebrated our 40th Anniversary in 2011.  We were formed in 1971 by a group of concerned parents in California who were seeking ways of dealing with the problem of substance abuse and addiction in their children.  Our members include parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, significant others, other family members and friends of those with a current, suspected or former drug problem.  We have been one of the best kept secrets in the recovery community, even though we have groups throughout the world.

For more information: http://www.familiesanonymous.org/

Meetings: http://www.familiesanonymous.org/image/data/WSOF-07-USDir2017.pdf

Al-Anon

In Al-Anon/Alateen, members do not give direction or advice to other members. Instead, they share their personal experiences and stories, and invite other members to “take what they like and leave the rest”—that is, to determine for themselves what lesson they could apply to their own lives.

For more information: http://al-anon.org/

Tuesday 06:30 PM 11 Brandywine Ave
Binghamton NY 13901
Map
use back door.
also open to professionals / students
Beginners
Wednesday 07:45 PM Christ Episcopal Church
10 Henry St
Binghamton NY 13901
Map
also open to professionals / students
Beginners
Thursday 07:00 PM Christ Episcopal Church
10 Henry Street
Binghamton NY 13901
Map
also open to professionals / students
Adult Children

Alateen

Alateen is part of Al‑Anon Family Groups.  Alateen is a fellowship of young Al-Anon members, usually teenagers, whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking.  Alateen groups are sponsored by Al-Anon members who help the group to stay on track.  Alateens come together to:

  • share experiences, strength, and hope with each other
  • discuss difficulties
  • learn effective ways to cope with problems
  • encourage one another
  • help each other understand the principles of the Al-Anon program

For more information: http://al-anon.org/how-will-alateen-help-me

NO MEETINGS IN OUR AREA

 

CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous)

Welcome to Co-Dependents Anonymous, a fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healthy relationships. The only requirement for membership is a desire for healthy and loving relationships.

http://locator.coda.org/

Local meetings— St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 200 Jefferson Ave. Endicott, NY, Sat 1:00 PM

GRIEF SUPPORT

The Compassionate Friends:

The mission of The Compassionate Friends: When a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated. The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.

For more information: https://www.compassionatefriends.org/

The local chapter: http://tcfbc.homestead.com/Welcome.html

Broome County Chapter

918 East Front Street
Owego New York 13827
United States
Email: JTL7899@yahoo.com
Phone Contact: Pam: (607)-239-4222
Group meetings are held on the first Monday of the month (if that day is a holiday, the meeting will meet on the second Monday). Monday’s meeting time is from 7 PM ~ 9 PM.
 
Group meetings are also held on the third or fourth Saturday of the month. Check the calendar below to be sure about the day. Saturday’s meeting time is 10 AM ~ 12 PM.
 
All group meetings are held at the Nimmonsburg United Methodist Church, 918 Upper Front Street (across from BCC) Binghamton, NY  13901

Online, Facebook and Phone Group Meetings

Parents who have lost a child: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1515193738693712/

Siblings who have lost a sibling: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1516508415263760/

Parents who have lost a child: https://www.facebook.com/groups/grasphelp/

http://www.naranon.com/board/viewforum.php?f=1

http://www.al-anon.org/electronic-meetings

http://www.phonemeetings.org

http://stepchat.com/alanon.htm

http://www.familiesanonymous.org/index.php?route=information/information&information_id=32

http://www.intherooms.com— In The Rooms is the premier online social network for the Recovery community worldwide. Our mantra is H.I.T.C.H and our mission is to Help, Inform, Touch, Connect, and Heal those in Recovery, seeking Recovery and support for their family and friends.

HOPE OVER DOPE –  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1528325370809326/

Hope vs Dope – https://www.facebook.com/groups/hopevsdope/

Addicts Fighting Addiction –  https://www.facebook.com/groups/AddictsFightingAddiction/

Addiction Really –  https://www.facebook.com/groups/addictionreally/

 

Al Anon Speaker Recordings:

http://www.xa-speakers.org/pafiledb…?

http://storiesofrecovery.org/AAnony…

http://recoveryspeakers.com/categor…


 

 

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SE Fighting Back – a Branch of Truth Pharm

SE Fighting Back is a community-based volunteer group dedicated to responding to the heroin and opioid addiction problem in the Sherburne-Earlville School District communities including Sherburne, North Norwich, Smyrna, and Columbus townships in Chenango County and Lebanon and Hamilton townships in Madison County.  Since its formation, SE Fighting Back has become a subsidiary of Truth Pharm, a nonprofit addiction awareness organization in the Southern Tier, to take advantage of Truth Pharm’s resources and knowledge of the issues surrounding the heroin and opioid crisis.

SE Fighting Back Goals
– To raise awareness and educate the public

– To promote prevention, harm reduction and recovery in the S-E communities

2016 Events and Activities Accomplished by SE Fighting Back:

Community Resource/Needs Assessment

Naloxone Trainings

June 16 in Sherburne

October 18 in Smyrna

Forums

April 1 in partnership with SE High School – Assembly for students with impact panel
May 23 in Sherburne – Public awareness event with impact panel

June 21 in Sherburne – In-depth education night including round table discussions

“To Love an Addict” Support Group Initiated – Locations in Norwich and Sherburne on the 2nd and 4th of each month

1st Responder Resource Card – Created for Chenango County and distributed to police, ambulance and fire organizations

Discussions with Mayor Acee of Sherburne and Chenango County Sheriff Cutting to promote formation of a countywide PAARI program.

Provide support to individuals in Chenango County seeking help for themselves or a loved one.

2017 Events and Activities Potentially to Include:
Additional Naloxone Trainings

Community awareness/ education forum(s)

Prescription drug “take-back” day

1st Responder resource card for Madison County
Event in partnership with SE Central School to raise awareness and promote prevention

Initiate Recovery Coach resources for the community by sponsoring individuals to take training

Develop countywide PAARI program in Chenango County
Continued support for individuals seeking rehab and/or integrating back into the community

For More Information find us on Facebook at facebook.com/SEFIGHTINGBACK or email sefightingback@gmail.com. Information about Truth Pharm can be found at truthpharm.org or by emailing truthpharm@gmail.com.

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2016 – A Year of Rainmaking!

So, “what,” you ask “does a Rainmaker do?”

What does Truth Pharm do?

Well, Rainmakers are change-makers, game-changers, powerhouses, people who refuse to accept no for an answer. They are optimistic, driven and produce results. Despite current negative conditions, they work to overcome. When a challenging problem exists with no apparent or clear solution – a Rainmaker will find and create solutions! They will take action.

That’s a Rainmaker – and that is what Truth Pharm is made up of. People who will create change and WILL have an impact on this epidemic.

Per our mission:  Truth Pharm works to raise awareness, reduce the stigma, educate the public and advocate for policy and law changes surrounding substance use and treatment.

And here is a summary of how we went about creating change in 2016!

Awareness and Outreach Events:

  • Hosts for Hancock Awareness Event – 2/11/16 – 70 attendees
  • Guest Speaker for Bainbridge Guilford Afton Awareness event hosted by Lourdes and Senator Akshar 3/9/16 – 350 attendees
  • Tabled at Children’s Wyoming Conference Home Event Binghamton NY – 3/10/16
  • Mind and Magic 3/11/16 – 40 attendees
  • Tabled at The Forks 15 Run Chenango Forks NY – 3/20/16
  • Hosted Walton Awareness Event – 4/13/16 – 140 attendees
  • 1st Annual Jamison Turkow Memorial Walk – 5/7/16 – 300 attendees
  • Hosted Awareness Event Sherburne Earlville – 5/23/16 – 150 attendees
  • Free Hugs Event – 8/5/16 – contact with over 300 people
  • Trail of Truth – International Overdose Awareness Day Walk – 8/31/16 – 350 attendees
  • Illuminating Truth – First Friday Art Walk – street painting, recovery awareness, community resources, recovery celebration, building projection during LUMA – 9/2/16 – 400 attendees
  • Trail of Truth Redo due to county removing our memorial – 9/7/16 – 80 attendees
  • Tabled at Clinton Street Business Fair Binghamton NY – 9/10/16
  • Tabled at Apple Fest Endicott NY – 9/17/16
  • Tabled at Mural Fest Binghamton NY – 9/17/17
  • Presented to Jenny F. Snapp PATS committee regarding parent education Truth Pharm could provide – 10/4/16 – 25 attendees
  • Trunk or Treat – family trick or treating and Awareness event – 10/15/16 – 150 attendees
  • Tabled at 5th Annual Chocolate Festival by Addictions Center of Broome County – 11/6/16
  • Alexis Pleus served on panel of speakers for Roosevelt Institute at Binghamton University to unveil the Binghamton Blueprint – 11/14/16
  • Tabled at the Thankful Jam – 11/22/16
  • Alexis Pleus spoke at New York State SEFA Luncheon about Truth Pharm and the Epidemic – 12/1/16 – 35 attendees
  • Total 2390 attendees reached through awareness events + countless individuals at tabling events

 

Education:

  • Provided 4 hour PAARI Angel Training Oxford, NY – 2/27/16 – 45 attendees
  • Hancock NY – Understanding Signs, Symptoms and Behaviors of Substance Use Disorders – 3/10/16 – 45 attendees
  • Alexis Pleus Keynote speaker at Genesee County Victims Week Conference 4/12/16 – 200 attendees
  • Developing empathy and understanding for people suffering from Substance Use Disorders, Otego, NY – 4/19/16 – 15 attendees
  • Walton NY – Roundtable event – 5/25/16 – 30 attendees
  • Sherburne Earlville NY – Roundtable event – 6/21/16 – 25 attendees
  • Garden of Hope – Monthly education meetings for families – May-Dec. 2016 – 20-50 attendees each event
  • Alexis Pleus speaker for District Attorney’s SAFE Families Program – 8/11/16 – 50 attendees
  • Alexis Pleus speaker for Oxford Community Conversations on Drugs and Use in the Community – 10/20/16 – 50 attendees
  • Hosted John Barry of Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP) to discuss Safe Injection Sites – 11/17/16 – 35 attendees
  • Total 640 attendees provided in-depth education.

 

Naloxone Training:

  • Hancock NY (STAP) – 2/17/16 – 45 attendees
  • Otego NY (STAP) – 4/19/16 – 15 attendees
  • Walton NY (STAP) – 4/20/16 – 35 attendees
  • Turkow Walk (STAP) – 5/7/16 – 15 referrals to training
  • Binghamton NY (STAP) – 5/26/16 – 25 attendees
  • Walton NY (STAP) – 6/1/16 – 20 attendees
  • Sherburne Earlville NY (STAP) 6/16/16 – 20 attendees
  • 20 families referred directly to STAP for training
  • Total 200 people trained on Naloxone use
  • 9 overdose reversals, 9 lives have been saved using Naloxone kits obtained through sessions hosted by Truth Pharm

School Events:

  • High school assembly in Hancock NY 8th – 12th graders – 5/13/16 – 150 students
  • High school assembly in Oxford NY 9th – 12th graders – 5/18/16 – 150 students
  • High School Assembly in Oxford NY 9th-12th graders – 12/23/16 – 80 students
  • Total 380 school students educated

Community Response Action Plans:

  • Hancock NY – Results: 3 events hosted, a open recreation time for youth created, counselling offered by local pastor – January – March 2016
  • Walton NY – Results: 4 events hosted, a family support group formed, police carrying Naloxone, Police Chief and Mayor developing programs for the county for Substance Use Recovery Supports – March – May 2016
  • Sherburne Earlville NY – Results: 3 events hosted, local company to host corporate education, a family support group created, a lasting branch of Truth Pharm created, Mayor writes letter of support to County for PAARI Program, Police support addition of prescription drop box and sharps disposal in the village – April–June 2016
  • Delhi NY – Results: 2 community events hosted – July–Oct. 2016
  • Total of 4 communities in 3 counties empowered, educated and with long-lasting impacts

National/Federal Involvement:

  • Teleconference with Michael Boticelli – 2/2/16
  • Placed on Facing Addiction Action Committee – (monthly meetings) Feb 2016
  • Attended Hill Day June 2016
  • Alexis Pleus attended “Addiction, a White House Discussion”, White House, DC – 6/7/16
  • Alexis Pleus invited to SAMHSA to provide input on materials to be produced for families who have lost a loved one – 10/27/16

Police & Criminal Justice Outreach:

  • Laid the ground work for Broome County Sheriff’s Office to start a local PAARI Program – 2015
  • Provided program outline for treatment and Vivitrol program at Broome County Jail – 2015
  • Collaborated with Oxford Police to create Oxford Road to Recovery Program, provided volunteer training, host Facebook page, assist with placements, rides and troubleshooting program – Feb.-Dec. 2016 – Placed 28 people in treatment in 2016
  • Assisted District Attorney Cornwell’s SAFE Program Feb.-April 2016
  • Meet with Chenango County to discuss Oxford, NY program – 3/17/16
  • Met with Walton NY Police to discuss carrying naloxone and reducing stigma – 4/5/17
  • Met with Sherburne Earlville Village Police to discuss naloxone and reducing stigma – 7/7/16
  • Met with Binghamton Drug Court, Judge Pellela – 7/22/16
  • Presentation for Penn Yan Heroin Task force on PAARI programs and how to create one in their community – 10/26/16
  • Met with Chenango County Sheriff’s Office to explore options to institute a PAARI Program – 11/15/16

Jail/Incarceration Outreach:

  • Visited two people in Broome County jail to discuss their future and desire to obtain treatment.
  • Assisted three families in advocating for their loved ones while incarcerated at Broome County Jail to be evaluated and then transferred directly to treatment at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services.
  • Assisted three people and their families to seek and obtain placement in Drug Court to reduce incarceration.
  • Assisted several families to successfully advocate or their loved ones to be place in treatment instead of jail.

Obtaining Treatment, System Navigation, Family Awareness and Education:

  • Assisted more than 50 people in navigating the treatment system and to obtain treatment. Paid for many flights, months of sober living, treatment fees, bus tickets, etc.
  • Assisted more than 200 families through direct contact in understanding their loved ones’ substance use disorder, how to communicate with them and now to navigate the system to obtain help or treatment.

Corporate Education:

  • Provided Employee sensitivity and awareness training for VOA Men’s home – 3/2/16
  • Provided employee sensitivity and awareness training for Sidney Federal Credit Union – 5/17/16
  • Met with Frontier Communications to educate them on the epidemic and what they can do as an employer – 9/21/16

Collaboration Projects:

  • Assisted District Attorney Cornwell’s SAFE Program Feb.-April 2016
  • Seat on Tioga County Community Task Force for Addiction Epidemic (monthly meetings)– 2016
  • Senator Akshar’s Heroin Task Force (quarterly meetings) – 2016
  • Joined JUST – Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier (monthly meetings) – May-Dec. 2016
  • Participated in forum hosted by Assemblyman Al Stirpe to discuss resources to address Substance Use Disorders in NY – 9/22/16

Media:

  • Interview on WIX Radio – 2/3/16
  • Interview with WICZ 2/4/16, 2/22/16, 3/21/16, 8/9/16
  • Participated in WSKG Community Conversation on Opioid Epidemic 2/9/16
  • Kingfisher Project Radio Interview 2/15/16
  • Press & Sun Bulletin Interview 2/16/16, 3/30/16, 7/19/16, 7/28/16
  • WNBF with Roger Neal 3/3/16
  • The Guardian, Chris Arnade – 3/13/16
  • Alexis Pleus has article published in The Fix 2/17/16
  • Kingfisher Project 4/5/16, 5/2/16, 5/9/16, 5/16/16
  • WNBF with Bob Joseph – 8/12/16

Advocacy:

  • Invited to speak at NY Senate Heroin Task Force in Penn Yan – 2/23/16 – 150 attendees
  • Advocated in Albany, met with over 60 Assemblypersons and Senators on a total of 13 visits between February and June 2016
  • Spoke at Governor Cuomo’s Heroin Task Force event at Binghamton University – 5/31/16 – 60 attendees
  • Attended Broome County Legislature meetings to advocate for appropriate spending for opioid epidemic – 10/13/16
  • Met with City of Binghamton to explore ways they can help with the epidemic – 11/9/16

Training:

  • Attended Rotary Luncheon with Jill Halford-Hammit as speaker 2/23/16
  • How communities can work together Webinar – 3/23/16
  • NYCON Board member training Webinar – 3/24/16
  • 8 hour training course – Core Principles Substance Use Treatment – Broome County – 3/30/16
  • NYCON marketing Webinar – 4/21/16
  • All about AA support – ATTC Webinar – 4/21/16
  • Obtained Certification as Naloxone Trainer NY Health Dept. at Tioga County – 4/25/16
  • SAMHSA Chronic Pain Management Webinar – 4/26/16
  • SAMHSA webinar – 4/27/16
  • NYCON Webinar – 4/28/16
  • Attended SAMHSA Hill Day – 6/6-6/7/16
  • Attended Medical Assisted Treatment Training – Broome Co. Drug Court – 8/10/16
  • Mental Health First Aid training – MHAST – 9/20/16
  • Attended Media Summit training for nonprofits by RVSA – 9/23/16
  • Attended NYCON Camp Finance on scholarship – 10/6-10/7/16
  • Attended the Harm Reduction Conference on scholarship 11/2-11/6/16
  • Attended the unveiling of the Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction hosted by Facing Addiction 11/17/16
  • Attended Integrative Harm Reduction Therapy – 24 hour training by Andrew Tatarsky – 12/2-12/4/16

Grants & Fundraising:

  • Applied for $5k for Constitution Pipeline Grant for Naloxone outreach to EMS agencies – awarded $2k for purchase of kits only
  • Applied for $5k for Community Foundation of South Central NY Grant for Tioga County Community Response Action Plans – awarded $2,500
  • A total of $31,910 raised through fundraising events and individual donations
  • Total Year Budget = $36,410.

*2016 was the first year of our 501c3. Since we did not have nonprofit status in 2015, no fundraisers were hosted, no donations were accepted or EVER collected. ALL efforts in 2015 were financially supported and provided by Founder and Director Alexis Pleus.

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Framing an Overdose Death

Another overdose death in Broome County. A very young man at the age of 22 did not wake up yesterday (2/6/16).
 
I am getting multiple versions of what happened with this young man. Some are saying he was at ACC and left because he couldn’t take the detox. Another said he just completed short term inpatient treatment at New Horizons and was waiting for a bed at Fairview. Another said he got kicked out of treatment for testing positive for suboxone (which he was apparently not prescribed). Another is saying it was her son’s roommate at Fairview and he overdosed there.

 
In the end, I can say, I’ve been at meeting after meeting where professionals and treatment providers call this ‘failing treatment’ or paint a picture that puts the blame on the person for being ‘unsuccessful’ in maintaining sobriety. They’ll say ‘he wasn’t serious about sobriety’. They will allow his death to be his fault and his fault alone.
 
I am going to say, this young man, like so many people in this country, clearly wanted to stop using heroin, but was not given the medical attention and treatments known to be effective, the length of time in treatment known to be effective, was not provided with the level of care, transfer of care or follow-up necessary and proven to be effective. Our system and the lack of proper medical treatment failed him and he died because of it.
 
For those who don’t know, detoxing from opioids or heroin is extremely painful to the bones and muscles in your body. I heard one person describe it as feeling as if every bone in their body was breaking. Add to that nerve pain, violent shaking, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, sweats, fear, agitation, severe cravings and severe anxiety.
 
There is a method for a person to be medically detoxed. A person can be given a tapering dose of suboxone to relieve their symptoms and make them more comfortable. Suboxone also curbs the intense cravings they have. In the US, it has been determined for some insane reason, this is not a medically necessary treatment. This is based on a determination that opioid withdrawal is ‘in most cases’ non-life threatening. Somehow the medical and insurance industries have been able to take this and run with it so that people addicted to opioids going through withdrawal are not granted the medicines known to be successful in easing their pain and making them more likely to be successful in both detox and treatment.
 
Our only local detox option, the ACC (through no fault of its own) is a facility that cannot offer medically assisted detoxification. They can only offer over the counter medications and take the person to the hospital if their symptoms are severe to be given some medications to relieve some of their symptoms. Note, they are not given what is known to best relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and the symptoms can still be severe.
 
Many people (we are told 4 out of 10) leave the ACC because they cannot endure the withdrawals. Again – the withdrawals they are enduring could be alleviated GREATLY if given a tapered dose of suboxone.
 
Other facilities locally won’t offer medically assisted detox because insurance won’t pay for it and they hold to the idea that it’s ‘not life threatening’.
 
For those who are struggling to not use while in treatment will get ‘kicked out’ of treatment for ‘failing’ by most facilities rather than being providing more treatment or changing the type of treatment.

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Here’s another fucked up thing about opioid withdrawals – long term use of opioids actually reduces your pain tolerance… so the pain that person is feeling is literally worse than what a non-opioid user would experience. And, opioids damage the regions of your brain that control judgement and motivation. So, you’ve got a person in withdrawals in severe pain, anxiety and experiencing severe cravings… they are NOT being given the medication known to be most successful in reducing these symptoms, they have a damaged sense of judgement and motivation and yet we are expecting them to have some sort of super human power, strength or ‘desire’ to outweigh all of that and stay to ‘muscle through’ a non-medically assisted gruesome detox.
 
We also know that 90 days of inpatient treatment is proven to be effective. We know there is a 90% relapse rate after short term (less than 14 days) of inpatient treatment.
 
So rather than having people say this young man at the age of 22 went AMA, was ‘unsuccessful’, ‘didn’t want it bad enough’, ‘wasn’t strong enough’ or ‘gave up’, let’s all do his family and him the honor of being honest and frank about what happened.
 
Here’s what happened – our system did not offer a young man with a substance use disorder, which is a medical condition, the medical treatment necessary and known to be effective so that he could be successful in recovery that he needed to overcome a disease which often leads to death.
 
We need to stop blaming people seeking treatment for being ‘unsuccessful’ ESPECIALLY when we are not providing them the treatment and medical assistance that is clinically proven to help them be.
 
We need to change the conversation.
 
Let’s commit to saying – this person died of an overdose because he was not provided the medical attention or treatments proven to be successful.
 
We don’t require diabetics to give up sugar before we’ll give them insulin. We don’t require smokers to quit smoking before we treat their cancer. We don’t require people with clogged arteries to stop eating unhealthy food before we’ll clean out their veins or put in stents. And if we try a treatment for any of these and it’s unsuccessful, we don’t paint the patient as not being strong enough or not wanting to be well – we try a different type of treatment or a more intensive level of treatment. 


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Mapping Our Lost Loved Ones – a Note from Jeremiah Lindemann a Rainmaker in Colorado

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If you are visiting this page you are probably well aware of the Opioid Crisis that is happening in our Country. It is effecting far too many families. It effected me too- I lost my little brother J.T. J.T. was the most charming person you would ever meet and could light up any room with laughter. He was my best man at my wedding and many people considered him their  best friend.  He became addicted to powerful painkiller called OxyContin. Before 2007 I had no idea what OxyContin was. After hearing many more stories similar to my brother’s on the news I decided to become involved.

In my daytime job I am a geographer that works for Esri- the leading mapping software company.  I wanted to apply those skills and technologies to help get the word out. There is a definite stigma about people who use drugs. This storymap “Celebrating Lost Loved Ones” shows a very small sample of people who have been lost to the epidemic. Their picture has a bio with details about what made them special.

The map is embedded here on TruthPharm:
http://truthpharm.org/remembering-loved-ones/

Here is the form to submit your loved one:

Memorial Submissions

The Lost Loved Ones map started roughly a year ago and now has over 150 contributions, really a tiny fraction of what is occurring.  However, it illustrates that this problem is happening everywhere, to really great people.  More mapping is being done around the epidemic as well and can be found in this gallery:

http://stoprxabuse.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicGallery/index.html?appid=74fb3b49c4b542b780326d10ed45bced

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Some of the other maps are demographic maps that look at deaths by county, states that have Prescription Drop Off Locations, where Naloxone was used to save a life, and where over-prescribing is taking place that will likely lead to more problems.

Maps are a great communication tool – I hope you find them useful in helping get the word out about this epidemic to help drive more change.   Thank you TruthPharm for all that you are doing!

Jeremiah Lindemann

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