North Country Informational Forum

Friday, April 25, 2014 NYS Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction New York State Office Building Watertown New York

Senator Patty Ritchie
Assemblyman Will Barclay Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush

Complete video of the forum may be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOHL5sGJZvg
Witness List: Hon. Steve Jennings, Jefferson Co. Public Health Planner and Watertown Councilman Ms. Nichole Smith, Jefferson County Hon. Cindy Intschert, Jefferson County District Attorney Mr. Mark Koester, Madison County Hon. Reuel Todd, Oswego County Sheriff Mr. Adam Bullock, RN, Director of Behavioral Health Services, Canton Potsdam Hospital Dr. Charlie Moehs, Watertown Ms. Jeanne Weaver, Jefferson County Ms. Anita Seefried-Brown, Program Director, Jefferson Co.Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council Mr. Jim Scordo, Executive Director, Credo Community Center Detective Sean O’Brien, St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department Ms. Chelsea Mulchany, Oswego County Ms. Penny Morley, Prevention Director, Farnham Family Services Ms. Cherie Moore, Lewis County In addition, the panel received written comments from: Phil Harris, Watertown Darlene Jobson, Alexandria Bay Nan Belcher, Dexter Devon Beecher, Watertown Alan Heffernan, Watertown Molly Reilly, Sackets Harbor James Griffith, Adams Center
Page | 1

Edward Kent, Watertown Barb Elliot, Richland Solidarity Forever, Oswego Kim Pound, Watertown James Scordo, Watertown Detective Sergeant Brandon Storie Robert M. David Dano, Parish Raymond Smith Faye Beckwith, Hannibal Brenda Dan Shelley Crosby Anne Bombard, Sackets Harbor Sylvie Marion, Massena John Tryte, Fulton Gray Gerald, Pulaski John Burke, Oswego Patricia Parkhurst, Mexico

Page | 2

Hon. Steve Jennings Jefferson Co. Public Health Planner, Watertown Councilman
“Heroin and opioid abuse is a plague that is slowly decimating our families and communities.” Mr. Jennings provided information on the growing incidence nationally of heroin abuse, and cited specific statistics for Jefferson County. We are clearly seeing increased Hepatitis C diagnosis, overdose and overdose deaths. Chronic HEP C 1 case in 2001, 67 in 2013. The increase can be attributed to more testing, but it’s also a result of increased high-risk injected drug use. OVERDOSE In Jefferson County, 2011-2012: Fire and emergency management reports 698 overdose calls, 301 visited SMC emergency dept.; 25% percent were opioid overdoses; 199 total inpatient stays at SMC, 38% due to opioid overdose. Overdose deaths in Jefferson County spiked 80% in 2010 and 2011, and are at the highest levels ever seen. Since 2011, drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury deaths in Jefferson County. There is great concern that the tightening of prescription drugs is having an unintended consequence of increased heroin and opioid abuse. Supports expansion of Narcan availability in the community. The current policy is “loose,” and we need something tighter statewide.

Ms. Nichole Smith Jefferson County
Ms. Smith is a recovering former user who shared her experience of abuse of cocaine and prescription drugs. Ms. Smith testified that it took her several tries to stop abusing drugs.

Page | 3

Hon. Cindy Intschert Jefferson County District Attorney
In 2007, 3% of drugs seized by Metro Jeff Narcotics Task Force involved heroin. In 2014, 40% of arrests involve heroin. The cost of a bag of heroin is less than half what it was one year ago. There’s been a significant relaxation of our drug laws in the last decade. The available programming for repeat drug dealers needs to be tightened. Dealers are claiming non-existent addiction to abuse treatment programs. When users have an addiction problem, there are programs available,. But there are individuals who are playing the system and typing up resources that could be better used to treat addiction. Heroin is now being made available in pill form, in addition to smoking and injectable forms. Reforms are needed to target the actual dealers and make sure they are not headed for the programs that others can benefit from and be rehabilitated and be contributing members of society. In order have those programs work, our service providers need money and need people.

Mr. Mark Koester Madison County
“If I was going to invest in a sure thing, I would invest in a chain of rehabs. That’s how serious this problem is.” Mr. Koester testified that he has spent $400,000 for five different rehab programs for an addicted child, who became addicted to painkillers and heroin. We need to invest in government subsidized rehab because most people can’t afford the quality care that users need to recover. The outpatient after care is more critical than getting them sober. We need to tighten laws for dealers – they are murderers.

Page | 4

Hon. Reuel Todd Oswego County Sheriff
“The lack of jobs and the lack of punishment have combined to make this a huge problem.” The retraction of the Rockefeller drug laws, which reduced the penalty for possession and the sale of heroin, has greatly reduced the probability of crime to the punishment. There is no punishment. The timeline of increased drug trade coincides with the timeframe of repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws. The success of I-Stop also is contributing to increased heroin use. Sheriff Todd also shared his own experiences involving a family member impacted by addiction.

Mr. Adam Bullock, RN Director of Behavioral Health Services, Canton Potsdam Hospital
“The insurance company issue is bigger than the heroin problem. You can’t get anyone any help.” Mr. Bullock detailed the increase in heroin and opioid cases, and provided charts to the panel. Through the increase, though, CPH has seen a decrease in payors—they continue to raise the standard. Mr. Bullock provides several examples. There is a steep backlog of cases awaiting detox services, currently 55 people waiting for seven slots at CPH.

Page | 5

Dr. Charles Moehs Watertown
“When you are ready to make the change, you need to do it.” 30-year practitioner who previously worked at the Cape Vincent correctional facility, he is the only physician in Jefferson County who is authorized to prescribe Suboxone, similar to methadone but can be prescribed on an outpatient basis; 3-4 years is the average treatment period. There is a need for expanded detox programs in the North Country. The only program currently available is in Syracuse and Potsdam—none in Watertown, the region’s largest city. Consider creation of hub programs—Dr. Moehs cited as an example, the Burlington region—where detox and rehabilitation services are complemented by other human services and strengthened mental health care. Legalization of marijuana is strongly discouraged, and use of marijuana in medical treatment should include stringent protections against becoming a stepping stone for wider legalizatrion. Insurance issues related to Suboxone treatment need to be addressed.

Ms. Chelsea Mulchany Oswego County
“He could not get the devil out of him. Six days later, he passed away.” Ms. Mulchany shared her experience of the loss of her boyfriend, a former all-state high school athlete who died after a heroin overdose. She described difficulties with insurance for treatment services. He died shortly after release from his second rehab attempt. Ms. Mulchaney said that rehab costs in New York range from $14,000 to $50,000 per month. Ms. Mulchany described the ease with which heroin can be found in Upstate cities. She said she saved her boyfriend’s life a number of times without calling for assistance because she was scared of calling for help.

Page | 6

Ms. Jeanne Weaver Jefferson County
“Young people today have no respect or fear for heroin. No one is exempt from this anymore.” Ms. Weaver shared her family’s multigenerational experience with addiction, including her son’s current battle with heroin. Ms. Weaver wanted to express that addicted persons do not fit the long-standing stereotypes: addicts are represented among older adults and members of the middle-class. She expressed concern that support programs like N-A are not available outside cities, and some addicted persons do not have access to cars. She described insurance issues, saying that companies reclassified her son’s care to avoid having to pay for necessary inpatient care, and urged expansion of treatment for prison inmates suffering addiction. Ms. Weaver also challenged medical professionals to take increased care in prescribing addictive medications, and called for added training, and for restricting opioid prescriptions to children.

Detective Sean O’Brien St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department
“To pay for a packet of heroin, you have to steal that much more out of people’s cars and homes.” Heroin was non-existent in North Country law enforcement until a few years ago. Law enforcement fears that the heroin surge will also lead to increase meth use. And in St. Lawrence County, law enforcement is seeing a concurrent rise in property crimes. Heroin prices are $35-$50 per packet in St. Lawrence County, which appears to be higher than in other parts of the North Country. Efforts to get drug dealers off the street have been hampered by local budget cuts, and Det. O’Brien is seeking new funding for multiagency task force interdiction efforts.

Ms. Anita Seefried-Brown, Program Director Jefferson County Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council
Ms. Seefried-Brown gave an overview of the Rapid Response Workgroup, comprising local agency representatives and parents of overdose victims in Jefferson County, and hailed the enactment of I-Stop, but noted its unintended consequences of pushing narcotic pain relief users to heroin. She spoke of the need, through education, to reduce stigma surrounding addiction, which she said can cause addicts to avoid seeking help and treatment.
Page | 7

Mr. Jim Scordo, Executive Director Credo Community Center
“Addictions to opiates and heroin are among the most difficult to treat.” Mr. Scordo made the case for comprehensive treatment and support for addicts to improve their chances of success at recovery, including treatment, supportive housing, case management, detox. He expressed concern over changes in health care financing that could threaten future services. He said a solution to the problem of heroin addiction must include prevention, stronger enforcement and expansion of treatment. And he pressed for increased support for in-school prevention training for students.

Ms. Penny Morley, Prevention Director Farnham Family Services
“Kids are starting in 7th grade. They’re bringing it to school and they’re sharing.” Heroin use among the agency’s clients has increased from 2% in 2010 to 16% now, but heroin increase appears limited to city areas. Meth continues to be a problem outside the cities. School-based prevention has been cut back, in Oswego County, from eight districts to five. Inschool programs target grades K-12, and are designed to be age appropriate. Ms. Morley made a passionate plea to parents to speak to their children about abuse and prevention. Oswego County has waiting lists for detox, and few doctors who are able to prescribe the drug Suboxine.

Ms. Cherie Moore Lewis County
Ms. Moore described her daughter’s spiral into addiction, and the financial and emotional stress that her addiction has caused to her and her family. She also explained legal difficulties that her daughter is facing resulting from her recent associations.

Page | 8

Written Comments Submitted to the Forum
Enter your statement or testimony here If you add up the total populations (based upon 2012 US Census Bureau) of StLawrence, Lewis, Jefferson, Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Oswego, and Herkimer Counties it equals 618,336. In a 2012 Federal Survey 669,000 people said that they had used heroin in the past 12 months. Almost 8 counties worth!!! This comparison is just my way of making numbers seem more relevant an put into contrast. Thank you. As the mother, I never expected to be DETOXING my child at home. When my 27 year old admitted her addiction, we tried to get her in to a facility for detox and recovery help. We were told, "if she's not pregnant OR suicidal, there are no beds available. You may call us every day at 7 am to see if someone checks themselves out. I would suggest you go buy her some heroin as you cannot detox her at home." continued from previous email... My husband (who was dying of cancer at the time) and I did, in fact, detox her with around the clock care. She wanted to die, she begged to die, but she did not. She is currently in an outpatient program managed by an amazing doctor at Upstate Medical, but this is a "self pay" program as she has no insurance and cannot afford health care as she cannot work at the moment. NA meetings were discouraged by some REHAB facilites as some of the addicts that were court ordered to go to meetings, were dealing heroin after the meetings. She has since found a group that is aware of this problem to the extent that they change their meeting location frequently to keep those recovering from the dealers. Counselers, doctors and parents know that this is an epidemic in our

First Name

Last Name

City

Phil

Harris

Watertown ny

Darlene

Jobson

Alexandria Bay

Darlene

Jobson

Alexandria Bay

Page | 9

county. High school students consider REHAB a country club because it's just part of the game. I am ashamed that our communities have turned a blind eye to the dealers who live next door. If the dealer who sold to my daughter had been kept off the streets after her two previous arrests, well... I wouldn't be typing this right now. I do plan to attend tomorrows meeting at the STate Office Building.

Nan

Belcher

Dexter

Devon

Beecher

Watertown

I'm a parent of a daughter with heroin addiction who is raising my grandson due to this horrible, destructive addiction disease. I want to commend Senator Richie for taking on this task that effects so many families in this area. I can give first hand info of how this disease has effected so many. heroin isnt going to stop in watertown, we need more access to help, not waiting lists cause they are far too long. we need help as far as more rehabs/detox in town.. we need places you can walk into and get help. we need to stop building housing projects and focus on building whats really important.

Page | 10

Alan

Heffernan

Watertown

Take away from those cought selling drugs their U.S. citizenship..2nd. offense would kick them out of the U.S.. Start getting tough on these people seems that jailing them does not work. An aggressive effort for education akin to the 1980s DARE/War on Drugs efforts in schools is needed. It would be very helpful for law enforcement & educational administrators to partner, develop a multi grade curriculum and implement it in schools. As a secondary teacher, it's clear that abuse is happening by students. It's tragic. I worked around drug dealers for 26 yrs.,and asked one old inmate why there was so much Heroin in this area? He stated to me this area was an easy trade area. There's people who come to this area for the sights of the thousand islands,and where's there's money you got easy sales. They make more sales here than in the big city. I feel more money should be sought for undercover Law enforcement to blend in with these dealers. Once they are convicted,they have got to do the full extent of there sentence and not given easy outs by our Govenor. They think the legal system is a joke. Place more attention on having our law enforcement getting to know the goups that are dealing in our area,and eliminate them for the good of the North Country. Thank You Jim Griffith

Molly

Reilly

Sackets Harbor

James

Griffith

Adams Center

Page | 11

Edward

Kemp

Watertown

Barb

Elliott

Richland

I am a retired emergency mental health worker. I believe the front line is education in the home by the parents first and foremost. We need more education and outreach to parents on how to educate their children. Hopefully, there is already drug education in place in school health classes. Student assemblies and symposiums should be held regularly. We need more rehabilitation and treatment programs. The police in Watertown NY seem to be doing a great job of making arrests. Dear Ms Ritchie; I commend you on any efforts to help find solutions/remedies for the addicted portion of our population. Prior to working in primary care - I was very much in the dark regarding the amount of controlled substances that are routinely prescribed to the general population - on a routine basis daily/monthly yearly. Some of this is truly a result of the deficient care for chronic injuries/conditions (such as chronic back/hip/leg pain). Not really due to anything'deficient' in the patinet care - but more due to lack of successful techniques fior surgical repair of thease prioblems. There have been good advances in laser surgery + many other solutions (besides prescribing addictive substances) which was typically done freely in the past. To thin day - there are many many people that - if their meds were haltes abruptly - would be suffering through withdrawal through no fault of their own. They have trusted the medical profession to look out for and treat their pain which the providers have doen - with the tolls they have had available. The typical 'wait' period for a person to get into a Pain management clinic can be months long - and the primary care provider may not be willing to prescribe controlleds for that length of time OR the prescriber will prescribe something with NO addiction potential but does not control the patient's pain enough to have ANY type of quality of life. It is an agonizing ecision tree we

Page | 12

have to machete our way through every day - a lot of our patients do not have a significant amount of history to go on - and as a prescriber , there is always the danger this is just a 'drug seeker' looking to take advantage of the 'pain is what a patient says it is when a patient says it is' mantra we have all been taught. The fairly new IStop reports (part of the E Health Commerce System has been a BIG help in fining and rooting out peple that are jumping around from doc to doc / pharmacy to pharmacy - just looking for controlled substances. This problem did not appear overnight - and it will take a long time to develope better therapies - produce more chronic pain clinics + get a better handle on the status of addiction in our population. It's not that there are NOT valid reasons to proscribe narxotics - they are VERY good at what they do - which is relieving pain. We have to more exactly define the path towards addiction _ have other resources in place to help the patient with chronic pain. Thank you for all you do (and the communication you provide as to what you are doing) at the grass roots level - where people are eventually affected by every rule/law/legislation that comes down the hallway. I appreciate the difficult topics you have agressively taken by the horns and started dealing with. Sincerely, Barb Elliott LPN/EMT, rural upstate NY resident Please for rational, sensible advice on this historical issue, please visit www.leap.cc Law Enforcement Against Prohibition After arresting and transporting many heroin addicts to and from courts and hospitals one thing is true of all, they want to get high. They dont care about prision sentences, health effects, or who it hurts. The suboxone treatments are a joke to the imates as it is a legal way to get high as far as they are conserned. After 13 years of law inforcement I have come to the relization that if you take away one drug another will take the place of it.

Solidarity

Forever

Oswego

john

burke

oswego

Page | 13

Patricia

Parkhurst

Mexico

TRY drugtesting individuals who recieve SSI and benifits. This is the largest user population which is not addressed. Its time people are responsable for themselfs and not waiting for someone else to take care of ALL there problems. Heroin is very prevalent in New Haven and surrounding... mexico etc. Granby . Unfortunately I have a couple family members who this horrible drug (and other drugs) have effected.. young children .. it's a nightmare. I do know that many take pills, easily gotten, prescription drugs... parents could be more aware...? but they get them anyway on the street. For one person I know.. he has avoided any opiates for a back injury and pain.. however got back into heroin. his sister who has 2 little ones, (judge doesn't worry?) big addict, very dangerous... many have gone from synthetic drugs and pills to heroin and Coke is still big for those that can afford it. It is all a nightmare there are NOT enough (hardly) resources in Oswego County... the ones who do want help go to detox in syracuse and then booted out because of insurance. A close person I know was told that patients will be rejected 3-4 times in detox and not make it to rehab because it is so rampant and insurance companies (medicaid most often) refuse to pay.. Oswego needs inhouse rehab and more programs. The young children and families suffer greatly, not to mention cost. Friends just lost a young man in Myrtle Beach... drugs were a big factor in that accident. Drugs I've never even heard of. Schools - what can they do? there's kids walking around who are addicts and no one seems to know and some parents don't care.. those that do are fighting for their child's life. Thank God it's not my own children but it's close enough. I try to get names of people dealing drugs for the tip line.. another issue is the Suboxin.....another chapter...:( Sorry for the long message... this is the stuff that keeps parents and families awake at night. I applaud the

Page | 14

drug task force.. and please dont stop Thank you

Sylvie

Marion

Massena

Hello – as a concerned parent of child who is struggling with heroin addiction, I am so grateful to see that public awareness, and hopefully support, is being addressed. My son is currently participating in a Suboxone Program, which, in my opinion, is the best chance he has of survival. Those of you who have addiction in your family do not need to be informed of the horror it inflicts, not only on the addict, but on their family and friends. I have heard, and read, the testimonies about the lack of support and stigma that addicts have to overcome, on top of their physical and mental addictions. This is so unfair and unnecessary! We need to remember that the addict is a human being who, in my son’s case, is caring, funny, hard-working and wants to be a productive member of society. He is the loving father of a beautiful one-year old son whom he adores. He has asked for help and, thankfully, he has family and friends that are willing to support him. My heart breaks for those addicts that do not have this. They are destined to fail without help. Please do NOT overlook this serious problem we have in our society. Addiction IS a disease and it is true that the addict cannot simply just wake up tomorrow and say “I will never use again”. They need the help and support of their families, counselors, medical doctors, AA/ NA, insurance companies, judicial systems and whoever else is willing to help. This will be a lifelong recovery program that they need to embrace, not simply a 5-day, 30-day detox/rehab stint. The public needs to be educated on the effects and seriousness that addiction creates. One cannot presume that they are exempt from addiction. It is everywhere and shows no discrimination. I was one who claimed to be exempt and am now painfully aware of the suffering that

Page | 15

comes with seeing one I love fall prey to drugs. We cannot judge and we must help. Please let me know what I can do.Thank you! Require welfare and food stamp recipients to pass a drug test prior to receiving benefits!! for eveyone to buy.You need to focus a culture more on opporitunites so people don't to depend on crutches(drugs) as the only bright spot in their day.

John

Tryt

Fulton

Gray

Gerald

Pulaski

Testimony submitted through comment cards at 4/25 Heroin and Opioid Addiction Forum

Kim Pound, recovered drug addict
Comments: I think the extra funding for Drug Task Forces in the area and more detox/rehab services are much needed ASAP—including more suboxone doctors.

James Scordo, Executive Director of CREDO
Comments: there needs to be a three pronged approach—law enforcement, prevention and treatment. There’s needs to be a full continuum of care including detoxification, outpatient, inpatient, a full range of residential treatment services, safe and affordable housing, vocational/employment services and case management. Treat addiction so we don’t end up paying more when in correctional facilities.

Detective Sergeant Brandon Storie, St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department Drug Task Force
Comments: Great forum. We would greatly appreciate being able to sit down with Senator Ritchie, Sheriff Wells and a couple Drug Task Force members to discuss a plan of attack on local heroin dealers.

Robert M., recovering addict
Comments: Smoking is no longer allowed at detox, inpatient or aftercare facilities. Also, women’s halfway houses are needed that allow visitation with children. Suboxens are not working—maybe more methadone clinics in Watertown, Canton, Massena, Malone, Ogdensburg and Gouverneur.

Page | 16

4/25 Heroin and Opioid Forum Emailed Testimony Name: David Dano, Parish, NY Title: Business Finance Director, Operation Oswego County, Inc. Hi Senator Ritchie, I did take the time to watch most of the video. I did not realize the drug problem was that big. My suggestion this is a war, and I suggest that combining forces from all police agencies to include ECON police Border Patrol and even military MP’s to shut down the big operators that I suspect is in large cities. If we get the big guys maybe then we will start win. The other issue is that attorney was not ethical enough to take care of a person in a human way should be disbarred period. I can see why there is a gun issue because I suspect the big drug dealers have weapons we the common people need to have our firearms to protect our families we are not like the Governor & Blumberg that has armed guards. I wish the video was given to a public radio station and advertised for everyone to watch , it is scary. Thanks for sending it to me. Dave ______________________________________________________________________________ Name: Raymond Smith this stuff is bad for everyone most comes from New York city bums and drug sellers from this city borders need to stop all from coming in with this agents all worked to death hire more help and get rid of most not all will prevail Jail not all the answers once there with this stuff might never get out of your system establish people that we already have and train them they start on Marijuana and it goes from there my personal opinion and past experience is not good for his drug Mail ships borders cities all has to inspect and stop illegal entry "Air train ships mail FedEx all need to be inspected borders etc open them back up Canada some are closed get them open again search and seizure is to strict need to be easier and for more use for all law enforcement for now good luck with this mess been allowed to long out of control ______________________________________________________________________________ Name: Faye Beckwith, Hannibal Very powerful forum! However, unless the problem is attacked at the root sources, the situation will only escalate. The medical and pharmaceutical communities must accept responsibility for the outcomes of their actions. Personally, I find it unbelievable that people didn't see this coming. TV commercials encourage young and old alike to seek a pill for every problem - rather than seek remedy. Highly addictive drugs are being prescribed like water - and it's very big
Page | 17

business. Very little is said about promoting whole health. I thought my mother was overreacting when 50 years ago she predicted that drugs would be the runination of our country. Sadly, her prediction may indeed prove true ....Faye ______________________________________________________________________________ Name: Brenda Dan Dear Mrs. Ritchie, I do have a suggestion for how to deal with the drug addict issue. Perhaps we can cut out giving out all the welfare benefits, so these addicts have to go to work to get their money, then they might be wiser in how to spend it. If they are sitting home, collecting a welfare check, in a free home paid for by tax payers, that is heated by the tax payers and eating food paid for by tax payers, using a cell phone provided by tax payers, and spending money from their taxpayer funded EBT cards for things like booze, cigarettes and you name it, then they have nothing to do and perhaps that is why they have so much extra time to devote to getting into trouble with drugs, alcohol, stealing, killing, etc. Personally, I don't want to be paying for any drug addict in any treatment program! They need to implement a three strikes out program in this state. No if's and's or but's! You commit any 3 felonies, and I hope that any drug conviction is a felony, you are out... or should I say, In!!... to stay! I do think it is worth a try. We give far too much to far too many and in turn, this is the society we end up with. Thanks, Brenda Dan ______________________________________________________________________________ Name: Shelley Crosby Hello, I read the news clipping in the Watertown times and agree something needs to be done!! I have a daughter who is a heroin addict...she twice had try to check herself into Canton Potsdam hospital detox to be told you have to be high on the drug at that time or you need to be going through withdrawal really bad or they can't do anything for you....Prior to all that I took her to probation begging them to help me but since at that time she had never been arrested there was nothing they could do and suggested I try to get her into detox...When I called I was told the same thing must be high on opiates at that time or they could do nothing, so in other words don't tell us you have a problem and ask for help go get high then come back to see us....This was three yrs ago...since then she has been arrested 3 diff. times to support her addiction...checked herself into Potsdam detox right after xmas 2013 while in the middle of a herion high...to be told max stay was 5 days then it was up to her or her family to find a rehab for her to go into because they felt she needed in house treatment from there but they could do nothing...First how do you find inhouse rehab while in detox when you are told no phone calls?? I called everywhere including Hamilton house and was told them and their sister house in buffalo had no openings
Page | 18

for a min. of 3 wks for women...medicaid will only pay for 30 days and because she was a major drug user she had no job or insurance at 28....I was told it would run about 1400 a wk for me to put her in a private rehab some where....we live on retirement pay how would that be possible?? Canton Potsdam rehab did end up getting her approved for 30 days only and she went there...My husband and I tried to help in every way since we are her only support and were told week two in we needed to stay away because our questions stressed her out...what they refused to listen to was the fact we had been dealing with this forever and of course our questions stressed her out we could tell when she was lying and that is the part she doesn't like..but instead of the tackling that head on it was we should stay away and have no contact with her...Problem at the end of 30 days they kick her out with no place to go....so if we didn't pick her up she would be back on the street in middle of winter...You don't need a degree to know that means back to drug use...so we picked her up...then mind you they are telling us to turn our back on her but some how she needs to be in norwood twice a wk for out patient treatment, 90 aa meetings in 90 days at potsdam hospital and she needs a suboxone doc and all the ones in st. lawrence county which by the way there are only two..have no opening..so closest one is in Fulton ny....he refuses to accept medicaid for office calls...so it cost us $50.00 just to get a doc appt which you had to over night a money order for...then first visit was $175.00 3 days later was office visit for $150.00 a wk later office visit was $75.00 then every 3 to 4 wks its another $75.00 all of this one top of the gas for me to drive from my home in Edwards NY to Potsdam to pick her up take her to Fulton then back to Potsdam then me back home..yet all counselors including ones in Norwood still...keep telling me to just back off and let her take care of all of it.....HOW is this possible, she has no car, no job, no doc. in st lawrence county that they say she needs, doc. wont accept medicaid for payment so money had to be paid up front before he could see her...We put her in an apt in potsdam that we are paying for until June first so she could attend these meetings and have a chance to get on her feet....Medicaid will pick her up for norwood visits but not to aa meetings and not outside county for doc visits so we thought at least in potsdam she could walk to the meetings that counselors and doctors are requesting in order for them to treat her...If everyone knows the drug problem is soooooo high my first question is why does a rehab detox center in Potsdam have NO doctor these people can see for treatment????????? The fact you have to go to Fulton is a joke!! These people are set up to fail...they cant get help unless they are in the middle of a high, detox you can only stay 5 days then can't come back for a yr because they treat with methadone and you are only allowed one round in 12 months...ss will only pay for 30 days of rehab when everyone tells you serious drug users need way more than 30 days...It is the most frustrating thing in the world....Twice we thought our daughter had overdosed prior to the detox trips yet we are told as parents to back off and have no contact and go to an aleon meeting.....I understand the aleon meeting is family that gets together and talks about their experiences etc...In all honesty how does that help me knowing someone else has gone thru the same thing? We are still stuck with the doc mess and all the rest...no sitting around at meetings and discussing that will change anything....The counselors and doctors tell us not to pay for an apartment....Yet Please get anyone to explain that if social services wont help with rent because she has no kids and there are no half way houses for women.....what are you suppose to do?? Let her live on the street?? Also where does she find an employer willing to work around the aa meetings and the meetings that are twice a wk in Norwood and the trips to fulton and we also have been told fulton doc can do a spot check where he calls you the day before and says he wants you in his office next day for a drug test and to count your meds that are left??? what employer is going to do this...Also if they are suppose to be getting help in these treatment programs in St lawrence
Page | 19

county why do they not have diff businesses that will work with them to give these people a chance to have a job and a chance to start over??? They don't help on employment end at all...so tell me how would those doc. visits in fulton get paid for if I back way like they suggest?? When I had this discussion in rehab about the jobs I was told she doesn't have to tell an employer anything about the drug problem....so ok she needs all these diff hrs and days off but don't tell them why...how long do you think before she was fired??????? No job means no money to pay for the doc you need to get the meds that will keep you off the drugs...if you don't have the suboxone they said it is a very high rate of going back to the drug use and since my daughter was using such a high does they said it was just a matter of time before she would overdose because she just needs more and more..I understand no one can fix the flaws over night but people are dying because there is no help and what is there is impossible to follow through with!! So I guess what I am asking for is how can St lawrence County get a suboxone doc that can accept more than a 100 clients??? We shouldn't have to drive three hrs one way for help!! Thank you for your time. ______________________________________________________________________________ Name: Anne Bombard, Sackets Harbor Thank you for bringing this serious and life threatening subject to the surface. As a mother of a heroin addict and a pharmacist I am passionate on this subject. There are so many ways the Watertown area could improve in the addiction area. First, there needs to be more plentiful and faster access to addiction treatment. For example, it took my son weeks to become established at Credo as a new client. An addict needs treatment to begin immediately upon their decision to get it. That week or two lag can literally be a life or death situation. The user is at his most vulnerable time, knowing he needs help and desperate to get it. The users coping mechanism is to use drugs, so that is how he handles the anxiety of making the choice to seek treatment. The lag period in treatment is a time that an overdose could easily occur as the addict may think about one last binge before the treatment starts. Secondly, as happens in addiction, my son had a relapse and he went into a 30 day program. Upon release from the 30 day program, his treatment plan was to return to Credo. When he went back to Credo, one month after the relapse, he had to go through the entire readmission process again, as if he had never been a patient there at all. This meant that at a critical juncture in his treatment, he went untreated for 2 weeks. Third, my son had an overdose situation where we took him to Samaritan Medical center, he was treated there on a Friday night and released on a Saturday morning. His father and I begged them to get him into a treatment center upon his release that very same day. We were going to drive him directly from SMC to a treatment facility. They said that they would set us up with a discharge planner before his leaving the hospital. The discharge planner came in, listened to us, sympathized with us, then said he was sorry, there was nothing he could do, and good luck. Fourth, access to emergency Medicaid needs to be available and done quickly with assistance from people who know how to complete the paperwork. I had a customer who was an addict, struggling with his addiction, needing Suboxone, and not being able to afford the $200 price tag. He had tried to get emergency Medicaid and the paperwork process was too complicated and too slow coming. He would buy a few doses at a time as he got the money to get them. Remembering he needed to either have the heroin or the Suboxone to prevent withdrawal, who knows where or how he got the money for either. This addict who was seeking treatment had to act in the same was to get his legal prescription drug and to get the illegal heroin. No wonder
Page | 20

Suboxone has such a high street value. This makes no sense! This customer should not have had to go through this, he should have been able to get his treatment to assist in his recovery. Fifth, I think law enforcement, healthcare providers and anyone else who comes into contact with an addict needs to remember that the addict is not the person underlying the addiction. Inside the addict is a person who loves, has family who love him, has hopes, dreams and a real, good, and productive life to live. My son was fortunate in having my husband and I there for him every step of the way, we knew who was inside that addict and fought to get him back to us. But in our many travels through this journey of addiction, we have seen more often than not, this is not the norm for the addict in treatment. This is why it is so important for the treatment opportunities to be better in this arena. I want to volunteer my services, in any capacity, on any committee or however you could use my help to get this horrible disease of addiction moving in the direction of recovery. Thank you.

Page | 21