Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

According to the CDC, teen dating violence is common among high school students. It is reported, approximately 1 in 12 students experience physical abuse, and 1 in 12 experience sexual dating violence. Female students are at greater risk and experience higher rates of physical and sexual dating violence than male students. Among the LGBTQI+ students, or students who are unsure of their gender, experienced higher rates of physical and sexual dating violence compared to their heterosexual peers.

Teen dating violence has a long-term impact on teens’ mental health causing anxiety, depression, and thoughts of wanting to unalive themselves. In addition to impacting their mental health, teens who experience physical and sexual dating violence may also engage in unhealthy behaviors such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Dating and sexual violence can also lead teens to engage in antisocial behaviors such as lying, bullying, and being physically aggressive. If you would like more information on the impact and prevention strategies please visit the CDC’s Fast Facts: Preventing Teen Dating Violence.

ACCORD’s Domestic Violence Program can also assist with safety planning, getting an order of protection, and connecting teens with services in their area. If you would like more information, please contact ACCORD’s 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-593-5322.

Resources

love is respect: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Enjoy the Outdoors Safely this Winter

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.  There are several modern mapping apps available for smart phones also.  Learn to use a traditional map and compass; there is no battery to go dead, and you will have even more confidence as you travel through the woods, even if using an area with limited or no cell service.  All DEC state lands have basic online maps that can be viewed on a phone, or printed, available at the website noted below.

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.  You may not intend to be out after dark, but you will be glad to have it if the unintended happens.  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!

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.  Please respect their generosity by remaining on the trails.  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 for the unexpected, 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 County is free to visit.  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. You can get updates from the NYSDEC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube

For more information, please use the phone numbers and websites below.

Allegany County Federation of Snowmobilers

Hike Smart NY (more outdoor safety tips)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

Forest Ranger (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)          

Western New York Wilds

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

For more than 40 years, December has been designated as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Impairment comes in many forms and is easiest to describe as anything that prevents from performing a task as you normally would. We are all well aware of the dangers of drunk driving. Crashes caused by drivers impaired by alcohol and drugs are responsible for over 10,000 deaths each year. Alcohol has long been the largest contributed to that number, however with the legalization of marijuana; there may have been a change. Some studies are showing that crashes caused by marijuana use have caused more deaths than those involving alcohol. There are also plenty of instances where both have been found in the system of the driver. Alcohol and marijuana are not the only things that cause impairment. Other drugs can also cause impairment, even over the counter medicines when not used correctly. Simply put, you should not get behind the wheel if you aren’t able to operate it to the best of your abilities.

December is a very important time to relay the message of the program. With the holiday season upon us, there are a lot of people out on the road to visit families. There are also a lot of people enjoying time with their families by having some drinks. This combination can become fatal if some responsibility is not added in. This is where the goal of the STOP-DWI program comes in. It is not the goal to try to prevent people of legal drinking age from enjoying a couple drinks with family, but it is about making sure that everyone out on the road can get home safely. The “Have A Plan” mobile app was created to help with this situation. You can download it here, http://stopdwi.org/mobileapp, and it can take you through the steps of how to get home safely. Whether that plan involves getting a ride from a friend, or calling for a ride from elsewhere, we want everyone to easily be able to get home alive.

Please be safe this time of year, and all year long. Be responsible, have a plan, and make it home alive. For more information on the STOP-DWI program, visit http://stopdwi.org.

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month with New York State Trooper James O’Callaghan on the 585 Prevention Podcast.

Remember Prevention Works!

Free Wholesome and Educational Videos for Kids and Families

With the upcoming holidays, finding safe pastimes for children can be an issue for parents and caregivers for which Allegany Hope has free, wholesome opportunities.

Our Allegany County nonprofit organization, focused on Building Healthy Communities Through Healthy FamiliesTM, is offering free access to the national RightNow Media library of over 20,000 videos, including a large children’s section with fun cartoon presentations which provide moral messages, such as kindness, helpfulness, safety and being a good friend.

There also are adult videos, in both single sessions and series for individual or group use, which encompass guides for marriage and families, parenting, men’s and women’s studies, conflict resolution, mental health and wellness, professional development, leadership, values and culture, and many more topics.

Children’s videos include BOZ, the green bear next door, Friends and Heroes, Adventures in Odyssey, Monster Truck Adventures, Owlegories, Stories from the Storyteller, The Emily the Elephant Show, Life at the Pond, Bible Adventures, and music videos.  Make Ready for Christmas and Inspired Christmas Adventures are among seasonal topics.

Presenters in the teen and adult video sessions include well-known pastors John Maxwell, John Perkins, Max Lucado, John Piper, Tony Evans, J.D. Greear, Francis Chan, and Andy Stanley, along with nationally-recognized Christian counselors and authors Henry Cloud, John Townsend, Emerson Eggerichs, Les and Leslie Parrott, Gary Thomas, Greg Smalley, and others.

Authors Dave Ramsey and Larry Burkett on finances; Chuck Colson, creator of a national prison ministry after serving time for involvement in the Nixon White House investigation, and celebrities Kirk Cameron and NFL football coach Tony Dungey also are included.

A special section for business includes individual videos and series by men and women executives with backgrounds at Coca-Cola, Walmart, HP, Chick-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby, Popeye’s, Tyson, and Auntie Anne’s pretzels.

Allegany Hope has obtained a community subscription to enable area families to take advantage of this free service.

Access to the videos is available by emailing Allegany Hope at AlleganyHopeWNY@outlook.com with name, community of residence and email, and then accepting a return email invitation to participate.

Allegany Hope is involved in various other initiatives for Building Healthy Communities Through Healthy Families in Allegany County and beyond which include an online Community Calendar of free and primarily-free events, a Faith Community Health Ministry Network to assist churches and community groups in developing health ministry networks to help serve holistic health – physical, mental/emotional and spiritual – needs of individuals and families within congregations and their communities, and various forums focusing on specific areas of need.

Additional forums are being planned to help meet the needs of individuals of all ages and families.

Allegany Hope seeks volunteer Information Ambassadors in churches and the general community who can help connect individuals and families with services and opportunities they may not be familiar with through a process of organized information dissemination. Further details are available from Casey Jones, executive director, through email or at (484) 435-0503

Fall Pill Drop held in Allegany County

On Saturday, October 29 the Allegany County Fall Pill Drop was held in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Angelica and Cuba were chosen for the fall locations.  The pill drop event allows the community to drop off unused, expired, or unwanted medications, needles, and provides the opportunity for education on the location of the pill drop boxes in the various communities.

This event was held in partnership with the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.(ACASA), the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, Cuba Police Department, and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County(PPAC). Medications were accepted from 10am to 2pm, and between the two locations, a total of 31 cars participated dropping off 101 pounds of medications, and two boxes of needles.

“It is always great to see continued success year after year since the inception of the Allegany County pill drops. This is an initiative that we will continue to support for years to come,” said Cuba Police Chief Dustin Burch.

Each car that stopped received a Take It To The Box magnet, which lists all of the pill drop box locations throughout Allegany County, which includes: the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office and Nicholson Pharmacy in Belmont, Alfred Pharmacy and Alfred State’s Office of University Police, Cuba Police Department, Cuba Pharmacy, Fillmore Pharmacy, Fisher’s Pharmacy in Wellsville, Friendship Pharmacy, Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, Jones Memorial Medical Practice in Andover and Bolivar, Tri-County Family Medicine in Canaseraga, and the Wellsville Police Department.

“This past spring, we established two more drop box locations at Jones Memorial Medical Practice in Andover and Tri-County Family Medicine in Canaseraga,” said PPAC Coordinator Jon Chaffee. The owners of Cuba Pharmacy and Fisher’s Pharmacy in Wellsville also established their own medication drop boxes earlier this year, which brings the total drop box locations to twelve. “It is important that community members do not hold onto old medications as people who abuse prescription pills usually get them from a family member or close friend without their knowledge,” said Chaffee.

Community members also received a Deterra bag, which allows someone to put up to ninety pills or twelves ounces of fluid in one Deterra bag, add water and crush up the chemical inside to make the medications useless to use by people and harmless to the environment. Once the medications are mixed a person can simply throw the bag away in the garbage.

“The bi-annual pill drop events and the Take It to the Box locations, helps to make sure that it is harder for people to abuse medications in our county,” said Allegany County Sheriff Rick Whitney. “By collecting these medications and having them destroyed we greatly reduce the amount available to find their way on to our streets and into the hands of our youth,” stated Sheriff Whitney.

Allegany County also has free sharps/needle disposal available at all Allegany County Transfer Stations. The days and times that these locations are open are different per location. Below is a list of all the locations.

  • Alfred, 394 Satterlee Hill Road. Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 8am to 3:30pm.
  • Belmont, 6006 County Road 48. Open Tuesday through Saturday 8am to 3:30pm.
  • Bolivar, 135 Reed Street. Open Wednesday and Saturday 8am to 3:30pm.
  • Canaseraga, 89 West Main Street. Open Saturday 8am to 3:30pm.
  • Caneadea, 9425 Molyneaux Road. Open Wednesday and Saturday 8am to 3:30pm.
  • Cuba/Friendship, 7912 County Road 20. Open Thursday and Saturday 8am to 3:30pm.
  • Wellsville, 77 Dyke Street. Open Tuesday through Saturday 8am to 3:30pm.

For any questions on the Allegany County Sharps Disposal Program contact Recycling Coordinator Tim Palmiter (585) 268-7282.

The agencies involved would like to send out a special “Thank You” to the Angelica and Cuba Fire Departments for giving us a space to hold the pill drop event. The next pill drop event will be held in April, 2023. 

More information about the pill drop box locations can be found at https://ppaccentral.org/takeittothebox/ .

Local Youth Learn about Vaping and Impaired Driving at 2022 SADD Conference

High school students from districts throughout Allegany County filled the Genesee Valley Central School auditorium today to participate in the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Conference. The event was to commemorate National Red Ribbon Week, a national celebration promoting the importance for students to live drug-, tobacco- and alcohol-free lives. This year’s theme: “Celebrate Life. Live Drug Free.”

Dr. Richard O’Connor, Professor of Oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, was the keynote speaker. He talked to the students about his research, which focuses on how using cigarettes and vaping can impact health.

The 2021 Risk and Protective Survey that was completed by students in Allegany County reported that 26.1% of high schoolers vape, which is higher than the New York state average of 22.5% for high schoolers. One reason for the higher rate could be easier access to flavored vapes compared to the rest of the state.

In addition to the science behind tobacco use, New York State Trooper O’Callaghan explained new laws about driving while impaired and how police officers determine impairment. Trooper O’Callaghan also went over the increase of arrests from impaired driving from drugs so far in 2022 compared to previous years. Local and national surveys have not shown a large increase in cannabis use for young people but has shown that young people’s perception of harm from cannabis use has decreased continually. It is thought that as states legalize cannabis, it gives young people the idea it is safe to use.

Eric Jones speaking to students at the SADD Conference.

To wrap up the half-day conference, students got their creative juices flowing with a pumpkin carving activity with Eric Jones, who just won the Food Network’s “Outrageous Pumpkins.” Event sponsors wanted the youth to take away the idea that fun, positive, family activities like Halloween decorating, are a healthier alternative to drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Eric ended the event by telling the students, “You can be successful at whatever you are passionate about, but you have to work hard for it.” Follow Eric on Facebook and Instagram for updates on what he is currently carving.

The SADD Conference was a partnership between the Allegany County Stop DWI Program, the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., Partners for Prevention in Allegany County, and Tobacco Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany.

ACASA holds 24th Annual Move-A-Thon

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.  On Saturday, October 1st, the Prevention Department of the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., held the 24th annual Bob Weigand Memorial Move-a-Thon at the Angelica Village Office.  Six people and a dog named Wilson participated in this year’s Red Ribbon event, which is held every first Saturday in October in memory of Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was killed by drug traffickers in 1985.  The purpose of the Move-a-Thon is to promote a drug-free lifestyle through healthy alternatives, and to remind people to wear red ribbons in support of a drug-free America during Red Ribbon Week, October 23rd-31st.  This year’s theme is: “Celebrate Life.  Live Drug Free”.  A national Red Ribbon Week Photo Contest is taking place throughout the month of October with the intent to involve families, neighborhoods, schools, and communities.  View the contest video for more information, including prizes, at https://youtu.be/EPyovFwbiCQ .

Winners of the event by category are as follows:

  • First Place Female Walker was Addison Bradt. 
  • First Place Male Walker was Graham Bradt.
  • First Place Male Cyclist was Shawn Scholla. 

There were no female cyclists or runners present.

The Allegany Council would like to thank the Village of Angelica for allowing the event to take place there, local law enforcement for ensuring safety, Robert Pfuntner for donations, and all those who participated in and supported this special event!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Observed in October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a nationwide campaign celebrating the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. In recognition of the important role people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive American workforce, this year’s theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.”

NDEAM’s history dates back to 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October each year as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was dropped to acknowledge people with all types of disabilities. In 1988, the federal legislature expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a national initiative designed to increase the employment of people with disabilities,” said Christina Lyon, The Arc Allegany-Steuben’s Director of Vocational Services. “Every day, people with disabilities can and do add value to America’s workplaces. The NDEAM campaign’s goal is to drive positive change through the hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities in America’s workforce and by illustrating that at work, it’s what people can do that matters.”

“There are a variety of potential financial incentives that a business may utilize when they employ people with disabilities such as the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit, NYS Workers with Disabilities Employment Tax Credit, Work Try-Out, On-The-Job Training, Job Coach Services, Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction and Small Business Tax Credit,” said Lyon. “With so many businesses hiring, it is important to look everywhere for talent. Recruiting should extend to nontraditional sources, including people with physical, mental, and communication disabilities. If you are interested in diversifying your business, please contact me at (585) 593-5700 ext. 227.”

Learn how The Arc Allegany-Steuben’s ACHIEVE Career Consultants provide multiple avenues for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to prepare for and become successful members of the workforce community through avenues such as community and vocational assessments, school to work programs, job placement, supported employment and on-site simulated job training experiences by visiting www.thearcas.org .

You can also check out the “What Can You Do” the Campaign for Disability Employment on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Mobile Addiction and Mental Health Services is now offered in Allegany County

Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. (ACASA) is collaborating with BestSelf to connect individuals who may be reluctant to engage in a clinical setting for addiction and mental health services. This collaboration allows us to become more accessible through the use of a mobile unit. We will be located at Cuba Hospital on the first and third Thursday of each month and Houghton Wesleyan Church the second and fourth Thursday of each month between 10:30 am and 2 pm. Our mobile team consists of a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) doctor, registered nurse, counselor and a certified recovery peer advocate (CRPA).

The initial meeting is a walk-in where each individual will have an intake and assessment with the counselor thereafter will be set up with an appointment. Individuals who are interested in the MAT service will meet with the nurse for an assessment then have a session scheduled to meet with the doctor via telehealth. They will also meet with the CRPA for an intake and will gain support from this advocate. 

Once the individual is stable within their recovery/mental health they will be referred to a clinic where they will continue their services. The CRPA will work with the individual to help remove any barriers, so they are able to engage in a clinical setting for treatment.

For more information on the mobile unit services, call ACASA at 585-593-6738 and ask for Jamie Minderler.

Jamie also discussed the mobile treatment unit on the 585 Prevention Podcast, which can be heard below.

33rd National Recovery Month

This September marks the 33rd National Recovery Month, an observance held every September to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.  

“Recovery is for Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community,” is now the permanent tagline used to celebrate the gains made by those in recovery, just as society celebrates health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.  A major difference, however, is that the successes of the millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery often go unnoticed by the general population.  The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover. 

As part of Recovery Month, #AddictionProfessionalsDay is celebrated on September 20, marking the 30th Anniversary since National Addiction Professionals Day was established by NAADAC (National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors) in 1992 to commemorate the dedicated work that these vital players of the health system and continuum of care do on a daily basis. Visit NAADAC for more information.

Previously, Recovery Month was sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  In 2020, the federal government “turned the reins over” to the recovery community to sponsor and manage this yearly observance.  Although SAMHSA remains an active Recovery Month Planning Partner and supporter, Faces & Voices of Recovery, a long-standing Recovery Month Planning Partner, now hosts the Recovery Month website, managing the social media outreach, developing and disseminating promotional materials, and is the central location for all Recovery Month events.  More information can be found at the Recovery Month website.

Local counseling is available at the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., at 585-593-6738.  Together, we can stop the stigma surrounding mental and substance use disorders, and help more people find the path to hope, health, and overall wellness! 

August is National Family Fun Month: Family Fun Starts at the Y

The YMCA of the Twin Tiers, with a location in Wellsville, prides itself on building strong kids, strong families, and strong communities.  It does so by promoting youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The Y strives to help everyone reach their full potential, and have plenty of family fun along the way.

The Y is the largest childcare provider in the area, allowing parents to pursue work opportunities and support their families.  The 21st Century Community Learning Center and Extended School Day After School Programs offers an enriching experience for children in multiple districts throughout Allegany County at no cost to parents. This fall, the Wellsville YMCA Child Care and Early Learning Center will open its doors for the first time, offering care and learning opportunities for children from 6 weeks of age to preschool age. 

The Y is committed to empowering kids and parents to lead healthy active lifestyles through sports and wellness programs. Sports recreation programs were offered on-site in Wellsville, Bolivar, Scio, Whitesville, and Rushford this summer encouraging kids to get outside and be active.  The Y is also known as “America’s swim instructor” teaching children to be safe around water through Youth Swim Lessons.  The Wellsville YMCA partners with the Wellsville School District to offer lessons at the school pool.  This summer, thirty nine children in Friendship, NY received free swim lessons through the Step into Swim program.  The Wellsville YMCA also supports parents in their healthy journeys by offering free childcare to all Family Members, while parents are working out during select hours.

The Y recognizes that the elements of fun and play are also a part of a strong family unit. The Wellsville YMCA has many upcoming events planned that focus on quality family fun time.  These include a Halloween Event, Super Saturdays, a Christmas Event, and Coffee & Canvas: a painting class for teens and adults.  There are also Parents’ Night Out evenings planned when folks can enjoy a night out while their children are having fun at the Y. 

The Y is a nonprofit organization that believes everyone, regardless of age, income, or background, should have the opportunity to learn and grow. The Y offers a financial assistance program that ensures no one is ever turned away due only to the inability to pay. The Y is a powerful advocate for the community, because we are the community. 

To learn more about the YMCA of the Twin Tiers, please visit our website at twintiersymca.org.

BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

July is Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month. This observance is meant to bring awareness to the unique challenges that racial, ethnic, and sexual marginalized communities face regarding mental illness in the United States.

Studies show that these underserved communities display higher levels of anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other mental health disorders.  Society’s deep-rooted prejudice towards these groups is a major cause of feelings of rejection, estrangement, and harassment. Barriers to care include equitable access to care, cultural stigma, and lower quality care all can also play a part in affecting the experiences of underserved communities in the US. 

What’s the connection with gambling? 

Mental Health and gambling go hand-in-hand. Gambling can cause anxiety, depression, stress, and low self-esteem.

Just like with mental health, there is a stigma when it comes to gambling. People who are experiencing problems due to their gambling often have a large amount of shame as well as fear about the amount of debt they have. It can be difficult to reach out for help as they often feel alone and isolated. 

The shame and stigma associated with gambling problems can be further compounded within BIPOC communities. This can be because of a distrust of the medical system, or lack of services for those who are undocumented. In addition, treatment options can be limited for those in underserved communities as service availability may not be equitable, culturally specific or in a client’s native language.

Just like with mental health services, these communities are underserved when it comes to problem gambling support. It is important to continue to have these conversations and advocate for resources for those who are part of these populations. Reach out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center to identify what resources are currently available, what is missing, and to work in collaboration so that we can better serve our communities. 

If you or someone you love is exhibiting warning signs such as being absent from friend/family events because of gambling; feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling; low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with gambling; or lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling, it may be time to reach out to the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.

For more information or to get help call (716) 833-4274 or email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org

ACASA hold 2022 Virtual AHSSUM Camp

The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. (ACASA) held the 30th AHSSUM Camp from July 11th-July 14th.  For the second year in a row, Camp was held virtually on Zoom.  Each day for two hours, campers from Allegany County participated in guest speaker presentations and crafts.   AHSSUM – “A Happenin’ Safe Summer for U and Me” is a no-cost camp promoting positive alternatives for Allegany County youth ages 8 to 12 years old.  Parents registered their children on-line and supplies were delivered to the participants in-person prior to the start of camp week.

This year’s theme was “Geocaching”.  Day one’s theme was “Finding Your Way to Outdoor Adventures”, presented by Forest Ranger Justin Thaine.  Campers received their own compass as part of their supplies and viewed a pre-recorded video of DEC Officer Thaine in Plum Bottom State Forest explaining how to use a compass.  Following the video, Scout Master Peter Roeske and Eagle Scout son Will Roeske spoke further on the subject and answered questions posed by the campers.  Craft time consisted of using graph paper to map out one’s bedroom and coloring a map of New York and facts specific to our State. Day two was “Geocaching 101” and Belfast teacher Bruce Harrington spoke to campers about geocaching’s purpose, benefits, rules, history, and his experience.  Day two craft consisted of assembling and painting a wooden puzzle of a flamingo, owl, or peacock.  The theme for day three was “Back to the Future”, at which point time capsules were discussed and ACASA staff took turns highlighting specifics about the year they were born.  The craft for this day was assembly and painting of a wooden bird house.  Day four was “Get Outside and Experience Nature”.  Campers viewed a pre-recorded video of Genesee Valley Principal Brian Edmister, co-owner of Healing Waters, who encouraged them to enjoy the outdoors this summer.  Other related videos regarding kayaking were viewed and discussed.  Campers, on day four, had the option of making a milk box carton boat or an egg carton boat.  Most campers made both kinds.  Bingo was played on the final day and winners received art supplies or Legos as their prize. 

Throughout the week, campers were given an opportunity to find historical landmarks in Allegany County and geocache bags in eight different geocache locations.  Campers who posted photos of themselves with their daily crafts on the AHSSUM Camp Facebook page, or emailed photos to ACASA staff, were entered into a drawing to win a Healing Waters kayak trip for a family of five on the final day of AHSSUM.

The AHSSUM Camp program works with Allegany County school systems and other human service agencies to offer camp to youth within the county.  ACASA would like to acknowledge and thank the guest speakers, Wellsville Burger King, Wellsville McDonald’s, Saputo Dairy, and Upstate Dairy for various donations, and the sponsors of this camp: The Dr. Lyle F. Renodin Foundation – “Affiliated with the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY”, Allegany County Youth Bureau, and ACASA. 

For more information on attending or sponsoring AHSSUM Camp next year, please contact the ACASA Prevention Department at 585-593-1920, ext. 719.

Local Youth Mobilize Against Big Tobacco in Albany

Youth Raised Awareness of Flavored Tobacco Products, Participated in Altria Shareholders’ Meeting

First row, far left Ritney Castine of the Center for Black Health and Equity, teens from Reality Check of NY and Dover Youth 2 Youth of Delaware, first row, far right retired Director of NYS Tobacco Control Harlan Juster.

On May 19, five teen leaders from Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattraugus, Allegany Counties (TFCCA) in joined other youth from around New York State, as well as Delaware, to call on Big Tobacco to voluntarily remove all flavors, in all their products, for all people. The live rally in West Capitol Park in Albany, NY, took place as Altria Group (Philip Morris USA) was holding their annual shareholders’ meeting, and was livestreamed to young people across the country who participated virtually. The united effort highlighted the tobacco industry’s use of flavored tobacco (including menthol) to target specific populations and drive initiation of and dependence of products harmful to their health.

Speakers at the youth-led press event included Ritney Castine, a health advocate and leader with the Center for Black Health and Equity and Harlan Juster, PhD, retired Director of Tobacco Control for the New York State Department of Health. Youth leaders Louisa Pelletier of Dover Youth to Youth and Kristina Donders of New York State Reality Check also spoke.

“While the tobacco industry constantly denies that they target youth with their marketing, you can’t argue with the facts,” said Kristina Donders, NYS Reality Check champion. “The fact is that 85% of e-cigarette users use flavored products.”

”The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced proposed rules that would ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars,” said Harlan Juster, PhD, retired Director of Tobacco Control for the New York State Department of Health. “But I believe that state and local communities must pursue banning the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars; in fact, they should ban all flavors, in all products, for all people and not wait for the FDA to act.”

”We know that 40,000 African Americans die each year due to tobacco-related illnesses and that the overwhelming majority of Black Americans who smoke cigarettes use menthol products,” said Ritney Castine of the Center for Black Health and Equity. “The time is now for New York to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and save lives.”

In preparation for Thursday’s in-person demonstration, youth spent Wednesday doing team-building exercises, planning the rally, learning about tobacco control policies, and how they can stand up, speak out and make a difference in the fight against big tobacco. Trainers were from Corporate Accountability, Counter Tools, Dover Youth 2 Youth, and the Hawaii Youth Council.

The press rally was part of a bigger effort, the third annual Mobilize Against Tobacco Lies (MATL 2022). Teens from Dover Youth 2 Youth in New Hampshire, the Kick Butts Generation in Delaware and Reality Check in New York were in-person in Albany, while youth leaders from Texas, Arkansas and Hawaii participated virtually.

Some youth took their demands right to the top – the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria Group, Billy Gifford. Teens from Dover Youth 2 Youth, New York State Reality Check, Texas Say What, Hawaii Youth Council and Project Prevent in Arkansas were made a designee for a shareholder to address corporate tobacco executives and ask questions during the virtual shareholders’ meeting while others spoke out on social media.

For more information on Mobilize Against Tobacco Lies follow them on Facebook, @mobilizeagainsttobaccolies on Instagram, @Tobacco_LIES on Twitter, or check out their website.

Double Trouble: Substance Use and Mental Health

May 8 through May 14 is National Prevention Week, which focuses on different aspects of substance abuse and mental health. Wednesday, May 11’s theme is Preventing Suicide: Everyone Plays a Role. Mental health and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable, and many people do recover. Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function as a result of the disorder (SAMHSA).

For example:

  • Serious mental illness is defined by someone over 18 having (within the past year) a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • For people under the age of 18, the term “Serious Emotional Disturbance” refers to a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder in the past year, which resulted in functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits the child’s role or functioning in family, school, or community activities.
  • Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.

The abuse of alcohol or drugs is second to depression as the most frequent risk factor for suicidal behavior. The risks increase if substance use disorder (SUD) co-occurs with depression (major depressive disorder) or other mental health disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and some personality disorders. Those who experience depression, or these other disorders often turn to drugs or alcohol as coping measures which can sometimes evolve into SUD.

Alcohol and some drugs can lead to suicidality through loss of inhibition, impulsivity, and impaired judgement. SUD can also lead to changes in the brain that result in depression over time, and can be disruptive to relationships—causing isolation and a loss of social connection. Furthermore, they can be a means to ease the distress associated with carrying out the act of suicide.

Risk Factors for Suicide

Risk factors are factors that can increase the possibility of someone making the decision of taking their own life. There are several risk factors that can lead to suicide.

These risk factors include:

  • Substance use disorder that coincide with other disorder such as: Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety Disorder, and Some Personality Disorders.
  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Stressful life events
  • Chronic pain
  • Living alone
  • Lack of social support
  • History of childhood abuse
  • High aggression/impulsivity
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity
  • History of suicidal behavior

Protective Factors for Suicide

There are some individual characteristics and things we can do in communities that may help protect people from suicidal thoughts and behavior. There is not as much research about these protective factors as there is about risk factors but identifying and understanding them is especially important. These protective factors include:

  • Identifying reasons for living.
  • Being clean and sober.
  • Coping and problem-solving skills.
  • Connections to friends, family, and community support.
  • Limited access to lethal means.
  • Availability of physical and mental health care.
  • Having a trusting relationship with counsellors, physicians, and other service providers.
  • Employment.
  • Religious attendance/ and or internalized spiritual teachings against suicide.
  • Attendance to SUD support groups.
  • Optimistic perspective on life.

Demographics – Special Populations

Adolescents

A key risk factor that often underlies suicidal and substance use behaviors is poor impulse control. Adolescent substance use may increase the risk for suicidal behavior due to both acute and long-term effects. Stressful life events, both traumatic and interpersonal, are shown to contribute to suicide risk in adolescents. Additionally, nearly 52% of NYS students in grades 7-12 reported their parents had never talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking. If you know your child is using alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, you have good reason to be concerned. You may feel helpless, fearful and even ashamed, but you CAN do something. Contact the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse for help at 585-593-6738 or call HOPENY at 1-877-846-7369.

Sex and Gender Differences

Men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for men than for women. “Illicit” refers to use of illegal drugs, including marijuana (according to federal law) and misuse of prescription drugs. For most age groups, men have higher rates of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than do women. However, women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder. In addition, women may be more susceptible to craving and relapse, which are key phases of the addiction cycle.

Middle Aged Males

Middle-age and older men that are dependent on alcohol and have mood disorders are at an elevated risk of suicide. Instead of talking about stress or trying to seek help for their depression men will often mask their stress and deal with their depression through harmful behaviors and actions. Depression is a common risk factor that might turn into other dangerous behaviors such as, denial of illness, and reliance of self-medicating strategies.

65 and older

While illicit drug use typically declines after young adulthood, nearly 1 million adults aged 65 and older live with a substance use disorder (SUD), as reported in 2018 data. Physical risk factors for substance use disorders in older adults can include chronic pain; physical disabilities or reduced mobility; transitions in living or care situations; loss of loved ones; forced retirement or change in income; poor health status; chronic illness; and taking a lot of medicines and supplements. Psychiatric risk factors include avoidance coping style; history of substance use disorders; previous or current mental illness; and feeling socially isolated.

How YOU can support Mental Health for All:

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and substance misuse can affect anyone. Whether for a brief period of time or a chronic problem, While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health.

To ensure mental health for all and prevent suicide, we need your help to reduce stigma, build awareness, and support those at-risk for suicide. You have the strength and power to reach out and save a life. Knowledge, awareness, advocacy, and empathy are the tools you may already have.

Recovery is possible. There is not a criteria that you check off and then all of a sudden you are considered “recovered”. Recovery looks different for everyone, and progress is measured differently. Recovery is a winding road, with twists and turns and possible pitfalls here and there – and that is okay. Be kind to yourself and to others, accept and learn from your mistakes or lapses. Celebrate progress, whether it is yours or a loved ones.

Together We Can Prevent Suicide… Prevention Works!

WHAT TO DO

  • If your life or someone you know is in imminent danger, CALL 911.
  • Offer help and support; listen.
  • Assess the environment for your safety and theirs – Remove any objects that may be used for harm.
  • Stay with the person until assistance arrives.
  • For additional help call:
    • Allegany County Crisis Hotline at 1-888-448-3367.
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (5233).
    • Text the word “hello” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

WANT TO DO MORE?

Join the Allegany County Suicide Prevention Coalition at any of our upcoming workshops; including SafeTalk, Talk Saves Lives, ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), and Youth Mental Health First Aid, or share your time and support as a member of the Coalition.

Are you a survivor of suicide loss? We can help connect you to local support groups.

To learn more, like us on Facebook at Allegany County Suicide Prevention Coalition or call Jose Soto at 585-610-9765.

Kicking Off National Prevention Week 2022

The week of May 8th marks National Prevention Week, a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.  This is an opportunity to join with other individuals, organizations, and coalitions in the community to promote prevention efforts, educate others about behavioral health issues, and create and strengthen community partnerships.

National Prevention Week is held near the beginning of summer, due to the increased risk of substance use and abuse occurring at celebrations and recreational activities, including graduation parties, proms, weddings, and sporting events.  Schools are encouraged to initiate prevention-themed activities for the purpose of raising awareness in students of all ages.  According to SAMHSA, the percentages of marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use among youth increase between spring and summer (April-July), and the timing of this week helps educate both youth and their families at this crucial time of year.

Beginning on Monday, each day of that week highlights a specific topic.  In previous years, a major emphasis has been on the prevention of using specific substances.  This year, some of the daily themes focus on prevention efforts. 

  • May 14th Celebrating Prevention Heroes.  Why not honor a group or individual from a school, business, church, community, etc., who has “gone the extra mile” to promote a healthy lifestyle? 

Since the first observance in 2012, community organizations across the country have hosted health fairs, block parties, educational assemblies, town hall meetings, memorial walks, social media campaigns, and outdoor events.  SAMHSA offers ideas and tips on how to host a community event around National Prevention Week.

SAMHSA’s website at www.samhsa.gov/prevention-week is a wealth of information that includes resources, collaborating organizations, materials, and a toolkit.  Let’s band together as a community and continue to set the example that prevention works by promoting a safe and healthy spring and summer with positive alternatives to alcohol and other drug use!   

National Prevention Week Toolkit.

Remember Prevention Works!

April is Stress Awareness Month

Stress Awareness Month in April reminds us to pay attention to our health. Experts have shown that stress can have a dramatic impact on us mentally and physically. A variety of factors can relate to stress, and we’re familiar with many of them – our jobs, our relationships, our finances. One that might not come to mind immediately is the negative impact of gambling. Problems related to gambling have a close link to stress and anxiety, both for the people gambling and their loved ones.

Over 600,000 New Yorkers have experienced a gambling problem in the past year. The effects can include sleep issues, strain on relationships with loved ones, financial problems and increased alcohol or drug use, all of which can cause stress. People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for other mental health problems. Two out of three individuals reported that their mental health suffered because of their gambling.

Not only do people start to be stressed after they have had problems because of gambling, but stress also itself can often lead to gambling. Some people experience distress over life events and circumstances and use gambling to distract or escape from the things that are bothering them. Unfortunately, though, the negative impact of gambling can compound an already-stressful situation and result in an unhealthy cycle.

Emotional and psychological distress is not exclusive to just the person gambling either – each of those individuals can affect up to 10 other people in their lives. A study found that nine out of 10 people impacted by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress. Between the people gambling and their close friends and family, nearly six million New Yorkers are affected by problem gambling and may experience mental health issues because of it.

Gambling is rarely a positive or effective method for coping with stress. April is a great month to explore healthy alternatives to cope with stressors, big or small. If you notice yourself or someone you care about starting to gamble or increase the amount of time or money spent on gambling activities, it might be time to explore why.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center is available for anyone exhibiting warning signs of a gambling problem, such as being absent from activities with friends or loved ones because of gambling; feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling; low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with gambling; or lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling. When people call (716) 833-4274 or email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org, they confidentially speak with a knowledgeable PGRC staff person who will listen to and connect them with the resources that best meet their needs. Whether someone is ready to get help or wants to know how they can help a loved one, call us today.

36th ALCOHOL AWARENESS MONTH

This April marks the 36th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) since 1987.  This year’s theme is “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction”.  Alcohol-Free Weekend has traditionally been observed the first weekend in April, which is April 1-3.  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 2021 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, log onto www.Talk2Prevent.NY.gov.  For additional information and resources, visit ppaccentral.org

Let this be your call to action, and remember, PREVENTION WORKS!

12th Annual National Drug Facts Week

This March 21st marks the 12th 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, and can be found for download at www.drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov.  NIDA’s “Family Checkup” is a wealth of information relevant to parenting skills that help prevent the initiation and progression of youth drug use.  Topics include clear communication about relationship issues, encouraging positive behaviors on a daily basis, negotiating emotional parent/teen conflicts and working toward a solution, setting limits when behavior ranges from defiant or disrespectful to more serious problem behavior, monitoring teens to assure that they are not spending too much time unsupervised, and knowing your child’s friends.  Visit www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup to access these tips and to view 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 2021 Risk and Protective Factor Survey, 12th graders reported the following related to 30-day substance abuse.  74.1% had NOT used alcohol; 95.9% had NOT used traditional cigarettes; 72.4% had NOT used e-cigarettes; and 84.1% 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!

Other Resources:

8 Ways to Connect with Children, Teens, and Young Adults

Partners for Prevention in Allegany County

Talk 2 Prevent Parent Toolkit

From Niagara Falls and the Seneca One Building to the Mario Cuomo Bridge: NY Shines the Light on Problem Gambling

Niagara Falls and the Seneca One Building in downtown Buffalo are among several NYS landmarks joining the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) to recognize March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). The two local landmarks will be lit up yellow on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Other sites honoring PGAM are the five towers in the City of Rochester, Yates Co. Government Building, Syracuse City Hall, National Grid Building, Barclay Damon Building, SUNY System Administration Building, Mid-Hudson Bridge, and the Mario Cuomo (Tappan Zee) Bridge.

The Western New York Problem Gambling Resource Center, a program of the NY Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG), is calling on everyone in WNY to shine the light on problem gambling, an issue that impacts millions of American adults. With the rapid expansion of gambling and the record-breaking introduction of mobile sports betting, it is imperative that all our communities collaborate to raise awareness of problem gambling, prevent any additional problems related to gambling, and get those in need to adequate, local support services.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 2 million U.S. adults (1%) are estimated to meet criteria for severe gambling problems in a given year. Another 4-6 million (2-3%) would be considered to have mild or moderate gambling problems; that is, they meet one of more of the criteria and are experiencing problems due to their gambling behavior.

The effects of problem gambling are not isolated to the individual gambling. It’s been estimated that 8-10 additional people can be negatively affected by one person’s gambling behaviors (Petry et al, 2005). These people include family members, friends, neighbors and even coworkers. If we account for individuals experiencing gambling problems and others who are affected, the estimate of those affected by problem gambling is between 64 and 80 million people.

Not only are we shining the light on the issue of problem gambling, we also want that light to be a beacon for anyone who might be negatively affected by a gambling problem – there is hope and help! If you or someone you know is experiencing things like distress, financial problems, or relationship conflicts because of gambling, the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center provides local, confidential support. Call (716) 833-4274 email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org or visit our website NYProblemGamblingHELP.org. We’re here to help.

_________________

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is a program of the New York Council on Problem Gambling dedicated to addressing the issue of problem gambling within New York State. The vision of the PGRC is the positive transformation of lives harmed by problem gambling. The PGRC focuses efforts on increasing public awareness of problem gambling; connecting clients with treatment, recovery and support services; and promoting healthy lifestyles which foster freedom from problem gambling. Visit www.NYProblemGamblingHELP.org to learn more about the PGRC network.  The New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) is a not-for-profit independent corporation dedicated to increasing public awareness about problem and compulsive gambling and advocating for support services and treatment for persons adversely affected by problem gambling. NYCPG maintains a neutral stance on gambling and is governed by a Board of Directors. Find out more at NYProblemGambling.org.

Fillmore’s Reality Check Participates in Through with Chew Week

ACASA’s Ann Weaver and Fillmore’s Reality Check member Selena Leonard.

While youth vaping may be the topic on everyone’s lips, many high school students and adults use chew and other forms of smokeless tobacco.

During Through With Chew Week, February 20-26, members of Reality Check groups in Fillmore raised awareness in their community, on the dangers of chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products.

Students created a display in the form of a mouth, with teeth displaying facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and additional health studies on potential health problems.

Smokeless tobacco:

· Can lead to nicotine addiction.

· Can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas.

· Is associated with diseases of the mouth.

· May increase the risk for death from heart disease and stroke.

“Many people think that smokeless tobacco is less dangerous or harmless compared to smoking cigarettes, and that just isn’t true” states Reality Check Coordinator Jon Chaffee. In addition, a study of internal tobacco industry documents found that smokeless tobacco product manufacturers added flavors to their products to attract new users, especially young men.

Allegany County residents who want to quit can contact ACASA’s Ann Weaver at (585) 593-1920 for free local cessation or visit alleganycouncil.org. Also, the New York State Smokers’ Quitline provides FREE support to those thinking about quitting smokeless tobacco, including patches, gum or lozenges, as well as support from a Quit Coach. Call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit www.nysmokefree.com to explore all the free services available to New Yorkers

Reality Check wants to give a special “Thanks” to Fillmore Shop’n Save and owner Randy Ellis for allowing them to decorate the front windows and help them educate the community.

Children of Addiction Awareness Week

The week of February 13th 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.

For more information visit NACoA and COA Awareness Week.

#OneCaringAdult

Positive relationships protect children from high-risk behaviors. Sometimes all it takes is #onecaringadult to make a difference.

Partners for Prevention in Allegany County (PPAC) is a proud partner of the Trauma-Informed Communities throughout Allegany County Coalition in creating a new initiative that supports adults in their role as mentors, coaches, and caregivers.

The project provides basic tips and strategies adults may use if they encounter a child who reports, or they suspect, of:

  • sexual abuse,
  • dating violence,
  • bullying,
  • online sexual exploitation,
  • sexually transmitted infections,
  • questioning their sexuality,
  • misusing alcohol and/or other drugs,
  • pregnancy,
  • mental illness,
  • toxic stress or academic stress, or
  • contemplating suicide.

So many of these problems are related to, or a result of, adverse childhood experiences that can last a lifetime. #onecaringadult equips community members with resources and information to help.

For further information on #onecaringadult, visit www.traumainformedalleganycounty.org.

New Year, New Start 2022!

The beginning of a new year often brings intentions of making positive changes.  Regardless of one’s views on substances, here are a few things to consider.

A study conducted by John Hopkins University revealed that the alcohol sales from retail locations the week of 3/21/20 was 54% higher than the same week in 2019.  Online sales increased 234% in 2020 during the first 6 weeks of COVID, compared to 2019.  Just last month, Buffalo News reported that alcohol consumption has increased.  Due to easy access to online ordering, lack of monitoring for proper identification of legal purchasing age, and the idea that it’s safe to drink at home as driving is unnecessary can lead to higher risk drinking.  Those 21 and older may be self-medicating in isolation, “passing out” from drinking too much, and experiencing health issues of which others may not be aware.  For those under the age of 21, accessibility and availability are both risk factors for experimentation and possible addiction.  Parents are the most influential people in their children’s lives and need to set the example for a substance-free lifestyle.  Sixty one-minute conversations on the importance of not using substances tend to be more effective than a one sixty-minute conversation, including key points that alcohol can damage the brain and body, which continue to develop into the mid-20’s, and family history of addiction.

The results of another recent study showed that women have increased their heavy drinking days by 41%.  Possible reasons may include attempting to “keep up with men” and pressure to handle stress, which may be connected to drinking in secret.  In addition, alcohol packaging/marketing and drinks that appeal to women, such as seltzers, carbonated beverages, fruity flavors, and those claiming lower calories may lead some to mistakenly believe that those drinks are less harmful and/or intoxicating.

Quitting tobacco is rarely successful on the first attempt, due to the addictive nature of nicotine.  However, effective supports do exist, including the New York State Quitline at 1-866-697-8487, or online at http://www.nysmokefree.com.  Allegany County residents are encouraged to call Allegany Council at 585-593-1920, ext. 713, for free classes. 

Tips for quitting include “S.T.A.R.”:

Set a date.

Tell people about the quit attempt.

Anticipate challenges.

Remove triggers. 

Applying the “5 D’s” is also important:

Drink water

Deep breathed.

Delay the urge for a craving.

Do something else.

Discuss feelings with someone. 

Cinnamon-flavored gum, candy, or tea may also help to fight cravings to use tobacco.     

The legalization of recreational marijuana for those 21 and older has provided opportunities for further education in the community.  Depending on the individual, it is possible to become psychologically addicted, while others do experience physical withdrawal symptoms when cutting back or attempting to abstain.  When speaking to those under 21 who may be tempted to use illegally, due to the same reasons of availability and accessibility that accompany underage drinking, remember the “4 M’s”: memory, motivation, maturity, and motor skills.  The hippocampus is the part of the brain connected to learning and memory, and is directly affected by marijuana use.  As mentioned earlier, protection of the brain and body until fully developed is crucial, as studies have shown that delaying the onset of substance use is directly related to the decreased probability of lifelong harmful effects and addiction.     

If you as reader are wondering how you can make a difference, be the responsible adult who does not enable underage substance use.  Use teachable moments to talk to youth about positive alternatives to substance use, such as exercise, connecting to positive people, playing games, painting, reading, etc. 

Resources pertaining to the topics above include Talk2Prevent, for marijuana facts through Smart Approaches to Marijuana, PPAC Central, and the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. (ACASA).  Call the Allegany Council’s Clinic to schedule an evaluation if you are struggling with substance use at 585-593-6738.  Counselors are there to help! 

Don’t give up your resolutions! 

Make a plan, get back on track, and remember: Prevention Works!