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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How to Offer Support to Grieving Families

As we are waking up to this news of another overdose death, can I please offer some advice?

First, most families will not want to discuss the intricate details of ‘what happened’ though most people seem obsessed or even entitled to know. The families in these early stages are still trying to process and believe ‘what happened’. It’s not your business to ask them. Though if they choose to talk about it, or want to, if you can handle it, let them.

500 messages asking “What happened” is awful and not helpful. Though, 500 messages of how sorry you are, or how wonderful your child is may save your life. Acronyms have never felt more offensive than they did getting them within minutes and hours of getting the news about Jeff. OMG and WTF messages were very upsetting to me. If you message the family member and they don’t respond, whatever you do, do not hound them for a reply. I literally had people doing this to me – demanding to be told what happened or to whom.

If you by some chance learn of the information early on. Remember, it is not for you to share with the world until the family has done so. Most of my family found out because someone posted RIP on my son’s wall before I was even notified of his death. In fact, before his body was even removed from his apartment. His brothers, father and best friends all learned of his passing from a facebook post. It’s NOT your news to share. Wait until the family posts before you post a name or information on social media.

If you don’t know what to say, the best thing to say is, I’m sorry or, I’m here for you. Or, I’ll listen to anything you have to say.

The most comforting thing is to hear about your child. Tell us a story, tell us something they did. Tell us why you’ll miss them. Tell us what you’ll miss about them. Tell us the last happy time you saw them.

Saying, “if there’s anything I can do, call me” is not helpful at all. Immediate family members in severe shock and grief have no idea what to ask people to do and can’t orchestrate volunteers and phone calls. If you want to help them, just find a way. I’ll never forget friends of our family showing up to clean my house and mow my lawn. People brought us food all week and thank god because I never would have been able to make a meal. A friend made flower arrangements to put on the tables at Jeff’s picnic… Another friend stepped in and orchestrated his picnic, many others people worked at his picnic all day and two stayed behind and managed all the clean up. Someone even showed up and brought a huge pack of toilet paper and tissues. I don’t even remember who, but it was incredibly thoughtful and believe me, I wouldn’t have thought to go to a store for anything. These were the gestures that helped us survive the first two weeks. I don’t know what we would have done without this kind of help.

And just going and sitting with them and letting them reminisce is helpful.

The following phrases are not comforting for most people: God has a plan, God must have needed him more, his struggles are over, time heals, it will get better with time, he’s at peace now… at least they were not helpful for me. Whatever you do, don’t compare the loss of a child to a pet… or even a parent… it’s really not the same, only similar.

And absolutely NOTHING about their cause of death, other than ‘you’re sorry’.

And don’t forget the children of, siblings, grandparents and close friends. They need comforting too. It meant a great deal to me to see my youngest son’s friends coming to spend time with him, taking him for a walk, fishing, whatever. He needed that too. And I know I was incapable of comforting my mom, so if I saw someone sitting with her and talking to her, that truly helped me.

I think everyone has good intentions, but it gets tiresome for someone who has just experienced the unimaginable to have to make that excuse for others over and over. Since it probably IS true that everyone has good intentions, it’s good to just try and align those with what is truly helpful.

And keep checking on them… for months… years…

Much love, Alexis Pleus mom of Jeff Dugon forever 28.

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