34th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month


This April marks the 34th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) since 1987.  Alcohol-Free Weekend has traditionally been observed the first weekend in April, which is April 3-5.  This is a time when parents and other adults are asked to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages for 72 hours to show our youth that alcohol isn’t necessary to have a good time.  If participants discover they can’t go without a drink during this period, they are urged to call the Allegany Council’s outpatient clinic at 585-593-6738 for signs and symptoms of a possible alcohol related disorder.

No other substance is more widely used and abused by America’s youth than alcohol, making alcoholism and alcohol-related problems the number one public health problem in the United States.

Many youth drink because of social pressure to “fit in” with their peers, while others may drink alone because they are bored or depressed.  This puts them at greater risk for developing alcohol-related problems.  Drinking is also associated with the leading causes of death among young people, including car crashes, murder, and suicide.  Even though teenagers know that people should not drink and drive, almost a third of teens will accept rides from someone who has been drinking.

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), those who regularly engage in underage drinking are at a higher risk of using other drugs, engaging in risky behavior, doing poorly in school, and having serious health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

Research has shown that one of the biggest protective factors in reducing the likelihood that a child will develop a substance abuse problem is strong parental disapproval of alcohol and other drug use.  Fostering healthy and responsible attitudes, talking openly and honestly, encouraging supportive relationships, and showing children that their opinions and decisions matter, are all ways to help prevent the use of alcohol and other drugs.

According to a New York State survey, over half the students in grades 7-12 reported that their parents had never talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking.  According to the 2019 Risk and Protective Factor Survey, administered to 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in Allegany County, 85% of students do NOT use alcohol!  Let’s continue to help keep kids safe from alcohol and other drugs by starting the conversation.  For tips on how to do this, visit the Talk2Prevent Parent Toolkit.  For additional information and resources, visit PPAC Central.  Let this be your call to action, and remember, PREVENTION WORKS!

More Parent Resources:

Family Day Parent Toolkit

KidsHealth Talking to Your Child About Drugs

Office of Addiction Services and Support Talk 2 Prevent Parent Toolkit

SAMHSA’s Talk They Hear You


National Drug Facts Week

DrugFactsWeek.2020.2This March 30th marks the 10th National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, first launched in 2010 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  The purpose of this week is to counteract the myths that youth get from the Internet, television, movies, music, or friends, and replace those myths with scientific facts about drug abuse and addiction.  The more informed our youth are about substances and the negative impact those substances can have on their lives, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors.  “Shatter the Myths” is a free NIDA publication that parents can use to talk to their kids about substance abuse.

NIDA’s “Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse” report highlights five questions relevant to parenting skills that help prevent the initiation and progression of youth drug use.  The questions emphasize calm and clear communication about relationship issues, encouraging positive behaviors on a daily basis, negotiating emotional parent/teen conflicts and working toward a solution, ability to set limits when behavior ranges from defiant or disrespectful to more serious problem behavior, and monitoring teens to assure that they are not spending too much time unsupervised.  The “Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse” has a copy of these questions and video clips that display positive and negative examples of the skills, as well as additional videos to help parents practice positive parenting skills.

According to the local Allegany County data from the 2019 Risk and Protective Factor Survey, 12th graders reported the following related to 30-day substance abuse.  70.8% had NOT used alcohol; 89.2% had NOT used traditional cigarettes; 61.5% had NOT used e-cigarettes; and 85.4% had NOT used marijuana.  We can all do our part by supporting our youth, getting the facts, and reminding them that NOT all youth are using substances, which is a popular myth among this population.

Remember, Prevention Works!

March is National Reading Month

ReadingMonth_social mediaThe Hope Center at Wellsville is working to help children and adults overcome reading difficulties, including dyslexia, which can have multiple negative impacts upon their lives.

The Hope Center, an initiative of the Mission Genesee Valley coalition of churches and other Christian organizations, is located at 4194 Bolivar Road (State Route 417 West) – #5, next to McDonald’s.  In addition to free reading assistance, the facility also houses drop-in, information and referral, and public and church education centers, along with a developing Christian lending library.  Monthly learning opportunities on a wide range of subjects involving life issues also are provided.

A significant percentage of both children and adults in Allegany County have reading difficulties.  At younger ages this can lead to bullying by others, lack of self-esteem, juvenile delinquency and the inability to learn in some areas.  As individuals age into adulthood, negatives can include difficult interpersonal relationships, trials in obtaining higher paying jobs, the embracing of negative behaviors including substance abuse, and even incarceration.

Sometimes parents take children out of public schools due to feelings they aren’t being helped and attempt to teach them at home, while not understanding the reasons for reading difficulties or being aware of the teaching techniques which can be important in helping their child.

Although individuals may be labeled as having reading or learning disabilities, they often are very gifted in other areas and, if able to overcome these difficulties, become very successful in highly thought of occupations such as music, education, engineering, psychology and science research.  Many famous people, including international leaders, have been determined to be dyslexic.

Early intervention is important, with significant speech delays, such as not starting to talk with at least a few words by a child’s first birthday, stuttering, the inability to tie shoes, difficulty in spelling one’s last name, and oral speech articulation with letters such as r, l, m,, n and sh/ch, difficulty memorizing, and poor spelling,  being some of the noticeable trends.

Individuals, family members and friends seeking more information in regard to this or other assistance for individuals or families can contact Casey Jones, Hope Center Planning Group chair at bps461@msn.com or (484) 435-0503.  The group’s ongoing activities also are available at www.facebook.com/HopeCenterAlleganyCounty and https://ppaccentral.org/hope-center.

Smoking STILL in Youth-Rated Movies


The Oscars hit the screen on February 9, in response Reality Check groups across New York state effort was in observance of International Week of Action which is held each year during Oscar season to bring awareness to their community members about smoking in films. Reality Check tries to build awareness of smoking in youth-rated movies and support for youth-rated movies to include smoking. The Surgeon General’s Report concluded that exposure to onscreen smoking in movies causes young people to start smoking.
• If current rates continue, 5.6 million youth alive today who are projected to die from tobacco related diseases.
• Giving an R rating to future movies with smoking would be expected to reduce the number of teen smokers by nearly 1 in 5 (18%), preventing up to 1 million deaths from smoking among children alive today.
For the past six years (2015-2020), Smoke free Movies has looked at smoking in Oscar-nominated movies and by Oscar-nominated actors. Here’s a summary of what that data shows.
• 2019 films Oscar-listed in major categories in 2020 feature tobacco imagery(17of 18 films),88% of the youth-rated features listed (7 of 8).
• This is a substantial increase since the 2015 Oscars. On the bright side, youth-rated films Oscar-listed in 2020 averaged the fewest number of tobacco incidents in six years.
• Youth-rated films Oscar-listed in 2020 delivered 69% fewer in-theater tobacco impressions than films Oscar-listed in 2019 (1.8 billion vs. 5.7 billion audience exposures).
• However, the sum total of 13.7 billion tobacco impressions delivered to in-theater audiences from both youth-rated and R-rated Oscar-listed films was by far the highest in the six years covered in this survey.
These statistics do not include smoking incidents young people are exposed to on television, the internet, and streaming services. For more information on smoke free movies website.

Remember Prevention Works!

Children of Addictions Awareness Week

The week of February 9th marks the Children of Addiction Awareness week, formerly known as Children of Alcoholics Awareness week, a campaign led by The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) to raise awareness of children affected by parental alcohol problems.  NACoA is now known as The National Association for Children of Addiction, as 1 in 7 people will experience a substance use disorder, and 18 million children are directly affected.  COAs are more likely than others to have emotional, psychological, or physical problems related to their childhood.  Many develop an alcohol problem and/or other addictive habits, and/or marry someone with an alcohol problem or some other type of addiction.  COAs often learn special rules and roles, which include attempting to protect the family image, keeping feelings to themselves, not trusting others, assuming parental responsibilities, excelling at school, trying to make others feel better, adapting to situations in a detached fashion, or using negative behavior to attract attention.  If these behaviors are not addressed, an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA) may have trouble expressing feelings, can’t seem to relax, are loyal to others beyond reason, are overly responsible, fear losing control, fear being abandoned, are overly self-critical, and have difficulty with relationships.  In general, COAs have higher rates of stress-related illnesses and conditions, including ulcers, depression, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, tension, anxiety, and eating disorders.  The positive news is that help is available, and COAs can be helped even when their parent continues to drink.  It is important that COAs recognize the special risks they face, understand how past experiences may be affecting their lives, and get the kind of help that is best for them.

Visit NACoA and COA Awareness Week for more information.

Fillmore Student Leader Met with State Lawmakers at the Capitol to Discuss Needs in Her Community

Nearly 40% of 12th graders in NYS use e-cigarettes; New Yorkers with low education, low-income and reporting frequent mental distress smoke at higher rates than the state average.

Fillmore, NY – Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties (TF-CCA) and Reality Check youth champion Aurora Kraft were at the New York State Capitol on February 4, 2020, talking with lawmakers about the success of the state’s Tobacco Control Program. Kraft, a student at Fillmore Central School, joined her peers from Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties to share their messaging on lowering the average smoking rate to 12.8% and about the unmet needs in tobacco control efforts, particularly among youth and certain communities. They met with Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Joseph Giglio.


Front Row: Katie DeGroff and Yasmine Arabaty from Olean. Back Row: Aurora Kraft from Fillmore and Brittney McElwain from Falconer.

During legislative meetings, Kraft stressed that cigarette smoking among high school youth statewide declined 82% between 2000 and 2018, but e-cigarette use by high schoolers continues to rise, now at 27%. In contrast, only 3.8% of adult New Yorkers use e-cigarettes. Additionally, nearly 40% of 12th graders use e-cigarettes statewide. The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.’s (ACASA) local 2019 survey data shows that 38.5% of Allegany County high schoolers vape. Research shows that youth who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes than their peers who do not vape.

“Successfully reducing the average adult smoking rate to 12.8% in New York State is a significant achievement, but new and emerging nicotine products—like e-cigarettes—could reverse the substantial gains we’ve made in reducing smoking,” said Jonathan Chaffee, Reality Check Coordinator at TF-CCA. “We know that marketing attracts youth to e-cigarettes, and flavors are what gets them to try them. Nicotine is what keeps them addicted.”

Higher smoking rates among certain communities

“Although the average smoking rate is down, cigarette smoking rates among certain communities are considerably higher than average. For example, throughout New York State, 25.5% of adults reporting frequent mental distress smoke cigarettes, as do 20% of those with less than a high school education and nearly 20% of those with an annual household income of less than $25,000,” said Chaffee.

“Income, education, and mental health status shouldn’t determine smoking rates, but they do,

and our program has a local and statewide program in place to further tobacco-free norms,” added Chaffee.

While at the Capitol, Kraft talked with lawmakers about work being done in Allegany County communities and provided an interactive display in The Well of the Legislative Office Building, revealing the true facts behind Big Tobacco’s misleading marketing.

More Facts: The Costs of Tobacco Use in New York State
–     Annual health care costs directly caused by smoking in the state are $10.39 billion.

  • This expense results in a tax burden of $1,410 for each household every year.
  • There are 28,200 deaths in New York State each year due to smoking, and thousands who are living with illnesses related to tobacco use.

The CDC recommends a $203 million annual investment in New York State’s Tobacco Control Program; the state’s investment is $39 million.

Reality Check New York empowers youth to become leaders in their community in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The organization’s members produce change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education. Reality Check in this area is affiliated with Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany (CCA), a program managed by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information, visit tobaccofreewny.com.

The NYS Tobacco Control Program is made up of a network of statewide contractors who work on Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities, which includes Community Engagement and Reality Check, the Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York, the NYS Smokers’ Quitline and Surveillance and Research. Their efforts are leading the way toward a tobacco-free society. For more information, visit TobaccoFreeNYS.org, TobaccoFreeNY.org and NYSmokeFree.Com.

National Birth Defects Prevention Month

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s theme is “Best for You. Best for Baby”.  Leading prenatal health experts from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, and MotherToBaby have partnered to increase awareness to reduce the chances of babies born with birth defects.  One critical area is that of avoiding harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.  There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant.  A developing baby is exposed to the same concentration of alcohol as the mother during pregnancy, which can result in a wide range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities.  Alcohol and tobacco use can each increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Alcohol use may also make it more difficult for a woman to become pregnant.

Tobacco use in any form can harm an unborn baby.  Carbon monoxide, a toxic gas found in cigarette smoke, lowers oxygen levels in the mother’s blood, which means there is also less oxygen for the baby.  Nicotine, the addictive drug found in tobacco, reduces blood flow by causing blood vessels to narrow.  This means that fewer nutrients can reach the baby.  Pregnant women who smoke have more problems with pregnancy and delivery than nonsmokers do and may have a baby with low birth weight.

Chemicals in marijuana pass through the mother and can harm a baby’s development, and opioid exposure during pregnancy can cause Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a condition in which the newborn experiences withdrawal from the substance and possible premature birth.

Badge2_B4YouB4BabyLet’s support our future generation of babies by encouraging potential mothers to choose a healthy lifestyle free of substances!  Be an active participant in this important Prevention Month by following and sharing #Best4YouBest4Baby messages on social media, and visit the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) website for “Five Tips for Preventing Birth Defects”.

Digital Toolkit

For assistance with a substance use disorder, call the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse’s Clinic at 585-593-6738.

Remember, prevention works!

Enjoy the Outdoors Safely this Winter – NYS DEC Forest Rangers

Winter is a great time to get outside and enjoy the abundant recreational activities that the natural resources in Allegany County have to offer.  There are over 50,000 acres of DEC managed state lands in the county, which offer great opportunities even throughout the long, cold winter months.  As with any time of year, preparedness provides the key to a safe and fun outing, but in winter this becomes even more critical.

Cross country skiing can be one of the best forms of exercise and is a way to view the backcountry and observe nature in winter.  There are numerous designated ski trails about, particularly on the Phillips Creek and Turnpike State Forests in Ward and West Almond.  In addition, many informal trails on state land are open for skiing, as well as seasonal forest roads that are left unplowed in winter.  When there is a great enough snow depth, snowshoeing can be another interesting alternative; or if there is less snow, this can be one of the best times for hiking – without any specialized equipment, when muddy areas are solid, and the lack of leaves on the trees offer vistas not available the rest of the year.

Be prepared for your outing by telling someone your plans and by knowing the area you will be going to.  Carry your phone and a GPS unit, if you have one.  Learn to use a map and compass; there is no battery to go dead, and you will have even more confidence as you travel through the woods.

Dress in layers; as you are moving you may want to shed an extra shirt or jacket, but if you stop for a break or get stranded, you will quickly become cold.  Hypothermia can easily result this time of year when your body sweats from exercise, and with no means to get dry when you stop.  Protect your extremities from frostbite with appropriate cover.

Bring a small day pack with some dry layers, snacks, and a means to start a fire in an emergency, as well as a flashlight with extra batteries.  (We all know how early it gets dark this time of year!)  With your pack, be sure to carry plenty of water.  Dehydration is an often- overlooked danger in winter.  You may feel less thirsty than you would in summer from the same amount of exertion, but your fluid level must still be maintained.  Thirst is not the first indicator of dehydration!


Hike Smart Guide

There are several good bodies of water in Allegany County for ice fishing, with some of the most popular locations at Allen Lake, Cuba Lake, and Alma Pond. Make sure that the ice is safe before you set foot on to it.  Lake and pond ice should be at least four to six inches thick to provide a safe layer for pedestrian traffic.  This alone does not guarantee safety – avoid locations of moving water underneath the ice, such as springs or outlets, which will weaken even a thickly frozen depth.  Slushy and wet areas indicate that the ice may be too thin to support weight due to warming conditions or disturbance.  Pockets or edges of open water are also clear signs that the ice may not be safe.

With around 380 miles of groomed trails, Allegany County is a snowmobiler’s paradise.  Many of these trails cross state lands, and many more miles have been provided by landowners to ride on private parcels in between.  Know your ability and be familiar with the operation of your machine.  Travel in at least pairs whenever possible and stick to the designated trails, both for safety and out of respect for the landowners.  Do not attempt to cross frozen lakes or ponds.  Be prepared as with any other outing.

The Allegany County Federation of Snowmobilers is made up of eleven local chapters. Their members volunteer to maintain the extensive network of trails.  They can provide information on any locally scheduled safety courses.

Remember that it is against the law to operate a snowmobile when under the influence of alcohol or drugs and doing so can be just as deadly as driving a motor vehicle.  It can be fun to stop at one of the many establishments along the trails and enjoy a meal or refreshments, but please do so responsibly!

All the public land here in Allegany is free to visit; there are no fees to do so.  These areas belong to YOU, and are yours to use and enjoy.  But with ownership comes responsibility: Please leave the land and water in its natural state as you found it – Leave No Trace!

New York State Forest Rangers are police officers of the Division of Forest Protection, within the Department of Environmental Conservation, and are a cooperating agency with the Partners for Prevention in Allegany County.  They are responsible for the care, custody, and control of DEC lands; wildfire suppression, prevention, and investigation; and wildland search and rescue.  For more information, please use the phone numbers and websites below.

Remember Prevention Works!



Image result for nys dec logo

Forest Ranger Justin Thaine (Allegany County): 585-415-1521

Division of Lands and Forests (State Forest management in Allegany County): 585-466-3241


Places to Go (state land information).

Hike Smart NY (more outdoor safety tips).

Hike Smart Guide

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Youtube Channel


 More Resources

Allegany County Federation of Snowmobilers. 

Partners for Prevention in Allegany County. 

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Don’t Drug and Drive.


Most people know that impaired driving is a bad idea and that it is illegal in all fifty states, but what does impaired driving really mean?  Historically, information and enforcement has been focused on drunk driving prevention, but recently, driving while under the influence of drugs has become a real issue, comparable to drunk driving.  In fact, in New York State during the years of 2013-2017, there was a yearly average of 317 alcohol related traffic fatalities, as compared with 255 drug related traffic fatalities.  Both drunk driving and drugged driving is impaired driving.

So, what is “drugged driving”?  According to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while the driver’s ability to drive is impaired by the use of a drug or a combination of drugs (1192-4 and 1192-4A).  A “drug” is defined as any substance that is listed in section 3306 of the public health law, which are too numerous to list here, but include legally prescribed medications and illegal drugs (marihuana, heroin, cocaine, etc.).  However, the distinction is not the drug, but rather the impairment.  Driving a motor vehicle safely requires awareness, concentration, ability to multitask, muscle coordination and the mental ability to process and react quickly.  Any impairment of these abilities makes it unsafe and illegal to drive.  Therefore, if a drug is causing impairment, it is drugged driving.

What is the difference between “drugged driving” and “driving while intoxicated”?  Drug impairment is more complex that alcohol impairment.  As mentioned above, a “drug” is one of a large number of possible substances that may cause impairment.  Unlike alcohol impairment, which is detectable and measurable through standardized field sobriety tests and breath/blood samples, drug impairment has a variety of expressions, based on the actual drug or drugs involved and a much more detailed set of tests must be conducted to narrow down the drug impairment.  Specially trained officers, Drug Recognition Experts, are often called upon to assist in suspected drug impairment investigations.

What can we do about it?  Check yourself first.  If you are taking any medications, consult your doctor, read the labels and information provided and make sure you are safe to drive while taking the medications.  Don’t use illegal drugs and don’t take medication that was not prescribed for you.  If you choose to use a drug that causes impairment, do not drive. Find a sober friend or family member, hire a taxi, use a ride sharing service, or use public transportation or some other alternative.  Check others next.  Talk to your friends and family about drugged driving and make sure they are informed and are making wise decisions.  Check the roads.  Be careful around other drivers that appear to be impaired.  If you see repeated driving behavior that you believe is a result of impairment or you witness an accident, please call 911 to report it.


“Driving is a privilege and a huge responsibility.  Take it seriously, so that you and others can make it home safely.  Don’t Drug and Drive.”  -Nathanael Propert – NYS Trooper


For more information on drugged driving:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Drug-Impaired Driving”

National Institute on Drug Abuse”s  “Drugged Driving”

Get Smart About Drug’s “Drugged Driving – What You Should Know”

Governors Highway Safety Association’s “Drug Impaired Driving”

Fillmore Students Reveal A Window Into the World of Youth Vaping

2019 Great American Smokeout Messaging Educates Community on E-cigarette Flavors


Fillmore, NY – Students from Fillmore’s Reality Check program marked 2019’s Great American Smokeout (GASO) by painting windows of the local Shop and Save to with the message: “Sweet flavs lead to outrageous behaviors.”

E-cigarette use among teens is on the rise, creating an emerging public health concern. Since New York State health officials began tracking e-cigarette use in 2014, use by high school students increased from 10.5 percent to 27.4 percent in 2018. New national data shows that vaping among high schoolers jumped 78 percent from last year, with middle school vaping increasing by 48 percent.

The high school senior vaping rate in Allegany County is 38.5 percent, which is 2 percent higher than the New York State average.


Fillmore Reality Check members Tara Beckhorn, Hannah Wilcox, Aurora Kraft.

Jonathan Chaffee, Reality Check Youth Coordinator at Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties (TF-CCA), says young people’s attraction to vapes has to do largely with the fruity flavors they come in.

“Kids and parents: Don’t let sweet talking messages and flavors like mint, crème and mango from Juul fool you,” said Chaffee. “Each JUUL pod delivers the same amount of addictive nicotine as 20 cigarettes.”

Chaffee also noted that young people who vape are four times more likely to use traditional cigarettes in the future.

The most popular e-cigarette manufacturer, JUUL, has played a major role in the youth vaping epidemic. The company, which is partially owned by Big Tobacco company Altria, never submitted its products to the independent, clinical testing needed to clearly understand the products’ long term effects.

GASO was established in 1976 to get smokers to quit for one day and make a plan to quit for good. For more information on help quitting, Allegany County residents can contact ACASA’s Community Educator Ann Weaver at (585) 593-1920 x713 or the New York State Quitline.

Reality Check, a teen-led, adult-run program, educates the community on youth smoking and vaping, the deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry, and how policies can change social norms around tobacco sales and use.

For more information on Reality Check, visit www.realitycheckofny.com.


About Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany

Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany is funded through the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control and is a part of Tobacco-Free Western New York, managed by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Learn more about Tobacco-Free Western New York at tobaccofreewny.com.