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.
Applying the “5 D’s” is also important:
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!
Albany, NY– On December 6, 2021, the New York Council on Problem Gambling is asking NYS Lawmakers, the press and community partners to join together to show support for problem gambling prevention, treatment and recovery. This 30 minute, live, Zoom event will briefly educate attendees, provide recommendations, and call on all New Yorkers to take action.
Council Executive Director, Jim Maney said, “more than ever before we need to show our strength in numbers, we need to educate the public about what is coming, and we need to take action to ensure the consequences experienced by our legalized mobile sports betting predecessors are prevented and mitigated”.
During this event the Council will call on the State of New York to do more for those individuals and families who are struggling with the consequences of problem gambling. “Resources are inadequate at the current level”, said Assistant Executive Director of Program, Michelle Hadden, “the question from all of us should be why? With billions of dollars in revenue coming from state sponsored gambling, why aren’t we providing adequately to prevent the problems and deal with the consequences?” To join the hundreds already registered for this event on December 6th from 12:30-1:00 PM EST, register here.
For more information on People, Purpose, Passion or to chat with someone immediately for help, please visit StrongerThanYouThinkNY.org . For local information and resources on problem gambling visit the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.
As a long-term survivor, if this letter helps even one person who genuinely wishes to comfort someone on the loss of a loved one to suicide, it will have been worth my time to write it. Each situation is different, and the following applies only to my personal experience.
Refrain from judging, offering an explanation, or saying something insensitive. If you realize your mistake, apologize, forgive yourself, and move forward. The Bible tells us that the power of life and death is in the tongue, so, think before you speak. My comfort came from those who said that they did NOT understand, but who were a quiet, calming presence, especially from the initial shock on the day of the death, to the post-funeral days, weeks, and months ahead.
Don’t assume that food is the answer. I was raised in a waste-conscious home, so, as the abundance of food increased from well-meaning folks and most of us barely ate because we were running on adrenaline, trying to figure out what to do with leftovers caused more stress. I would suggest checking with the family to see if there’s something they need or want, or, inviting them to dinner in the future.
Once the funeral is over and the survivors remain to “pick up the pieces” is when your friendship is needed the most. There will be many emotional ups and downs, and it is a relief when friends remain consistent in how they interact with the survivor. Sharing stories about the survivor’s loved one often leads to laughter and healing, and it is imperative that the survivor hears about what is happening in the life of her friends. It gives hope and is a reminder that life doesn’t exist in one small vacuum.
If you tell the survivor you are willing to listen if she needs to talk about the circumstances, be sure you mean it, as you may discover unexpected details of the suicide that you may not be prepared to hear.
Not everyone who loses a loved one to suicide requires professional help. Our likeminded Christian relatives and friends were the greatest support system and remain so to this day. I never joined a support group because I couldn’t say for certain that I would want to talk about it on the fourth Tuesday of the month, for example. Also, I do not have children, so, even as a survivor, I would never attempt to console a person on the loss of his/her child.
I once heard a “professional” make a general statement that a suicide survivor shouldn’t tell her story in a way that makes it seem like it “happened yesterday”. I was correct when I suspected that the person was not a survivor, as she did not comprehend the unexpected wave of emotion that may be triggered by a memory or by someone who reminds the survivor of her loved one, regardless of how much time has passed. (This is not to be confused with PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.) We need to stop the stigma and realize that it takes courage for others to share their stories, especially with an audience!
One of the nicest things anyone did for us was when our Niagara County Coroner/Funeral Director sent a crocheted snowflake ornament with an “In Loving Memory” tag that read, “Individuals, like snowflakes, have distinct characteristics…no two are the same”. It currently hangs in my bedroom.
Our family was blessed with an outpouring of love and support that continued throughout the years. Not everyone who is faced with the devastation of suicide is this fortunate. Reach out, cast fear aside, be yourself, and love unconditionally those who need you to make a difference! Someone is waiting.
by Ann Weaver.
Belfast and Whitesville– On Saturday, October 23 the Allegany County Fall Pill Drop was held in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Belfast and Whitesville were chosen for the fall locations. The pill drop event allows the community to drop off unused, expired, or unwanted medications, vape devices, 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, and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County(PPAC). Medications were accepted from 10am to 2pm, and between the two locations, a total of 30 cars participated and 61.8 pounds of medications were collected.
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, Fillmore Pharmacy, Friendship Pharmacy, Jones Memorial Medical Practice in Bolivar, Wellsville Police Department and the Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville. This calendar year, 722.8 pounds of medications have been collected from the pill drop box locations.
“The pill drop boxes continue to be a great asset to our county. By utilizing these boxes to dispose of unused medication, it ensures their safe destruction which prevents possible abuse. The drop boxes are conveniently located at various locations across the County and are easy to use. We continue to encourage all of our residents to take advantage of this program” said Undersheriff Scott Cicirello.
The pill drop events and boxes are completely anonymous and confidential. The collected medications are transported to an undisclosed location for incineration by the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office. Incinerating the medications makes them harmless to the environment. “The pill drop events allow us to educate the community on the importance of safe storage, safe disposal, and where the drop boxes are located throughout the county” states PPAC Coordinator Jonathan Chaffee. “We are currently working on establishing two more Take It to the Box locations, which would help outlying communities properly dispose of unwanted and unused medications.”
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 listed of all the locations.
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 Belfast Fire Department and Independence Emergency Squad for giving us a space to hold the pill drop event. The next pill drop event will be held in April, 2022. More information about the pill drop box locations can be found at https://ppaccentral.org/takeittothebox/ .
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. This year’s theme is: “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.”
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 a tight job market, one in which skilled, dedicated workers are hard to find, 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) 593-3005 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 The ARC Allegany-Steuben New York.
According to the CDC (CDC, 2020) suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. This is a concerning statistic and many people struggle with their mental health every day. There are many factors that may lead someone to think that suicide is the only option, but have you ever thought about problem gambling as a source of emotional distress for someone?
There are many people who struggle with problem gambling in the United States. It is estimated that 2 million adults in the U.S. meet the criteria for gambling disorder, with another 4-6 million people in the U.S. struggling with problem gambling (National Council on Problem Gambling, 2020).
For many people, they can gamble and not have a problem. However, for some, gambling can cause problems in their lives. Problem gambling is anytime gambling causes problems or negative consequences in someone’s life. Gambling disorder is a diagnosis by a qualified, trained professional determined by the criteria set forth in the DSM5.
According to the DSM5, a diagnosis of gambling disorder requires at least four of the following during the past year:
It is important to remember that while all those with a gambling disorder are experiencing problem gambling, not all those struggling with problem gambling have a diagnosable gambling disorder. Whether someone is struggling with problem gambling or gambling disorder, they are at risk of having the negative consequences from gambling seep out into their everyday lives. These effects may not only impact the person struggling with gambling, but also impact their loved ones.
People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for struggling with other mental health disorders. Two out of three gamblers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling problems. In addition to struggling with gambling, they may be struggling with other mental health problems such as a mood disorders like depression, personality disorder, and anxiety. Someone struggling with their gambling may be cashing in retirement funds, college funds, or taking out additional credit cards and loans. These impacts can cause someone to feel hopeless, desperate, and alone.
These negative effects can take a toll on one’s mental health. Sadly, problem gambling has the highest suicide rate among all addictions. When we look at suicide in the United States, 3.9% of the adult population have suicidal ideations and 0.6% attempt suicide each year (CDC, 2015). While this statistic is alarming, we find that for problem gamblers, the concern continues to grow. It has been found that 37% of those struggling with problem gambling and 49% of those with a pathological Gambling Disorder have suicidal ideations. Statistics also show that 17% of problem gamblers and 18% of those with a Gambling Disorder attempt suicide. This rate is much higher than the general population, and we believe it’s important to raise awareness of this issue through educating community providers and clients.
Problem gambling is often referred to as “the hidden addiction” because there are no physical warning signs to “test for” problem gambling. It can be very difficult to spot, so it may be difficult to know if someone is struggling with this and may be having suicidal ideations. While there are no physical signs, there are still signs to look for if you think someone may be struggling with a gambling problem.
Some things to look for are:
While we cannot physically test for problem gambling, there are screening and diagnostic tools that can be used to initiate a conversation about gambling. A common tool to use is the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen, or the BBGS.
It is a simple three question screen that consists of yes or no answers.
If you, someone you know, or a client you work with answers yes to any of these questions, it may be time to start talking about problem gambling. Problem gambling can affect anyone at any point in their lives and can impact friends and families of those struggling with their gambling. It can develop into a gambling disorder, which leads to damaged relationships with loved ones, difficulty at work, and financial problems. These problems can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health. It is important that we start to realize the importance of talking about problem gambling, and what impacts it may have on individuals. If we take the time to educate ourselves and start the conversation, we can help break the stigma and shame out of problem gambling and get those struggling the help that they need. If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, they can visit Western New York Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) or call 716-833-4274 to find out more and get connected to resources.
Submitted by: Jeffrey Wierzbicki
Authored by: Colleen Jones
Western Problem Gambling Resource Center
Monday, September 27th, marks the 21st anniversary of Family Day: Making Every Day Special, founded in 2001 by the Center on Addiction. Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University has consistently found that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use other drugs. Conversations during mealtime are a way for parents to stay connected and involved with their children. Including youth in meal prep and clean-up instills a sense of responsibility and they are likely to feel like part of a team. In addition to family bonding, kids who eat with their families are more likely to learn healthy eating habits, eat smaller portions, do better in school, and are less likely to stress about food. Depending on weather, a picnic with board games would be a fun way to enjoy nature and appreciate each other’s company.
Televisions, cell phones, and other mobile devices should be turned off during dinner so each person can share the day’s events without distractions. Trips in the vehicle can also be used as teachable, quality bonding time, as parents have a “captive” audience. The earlier parents start connecting with their kids, the better. If kids aren’t used to talking to their parents about what’s going on in their lives when they are eight or ten, it will be more difficult to get them talking when they are older.
Teens are at greater risk of substance abuse as they move from middle school to high school, so, parents need to be especially attentive during this transition period.
If parents are unsure of how to start an age-appropriate conversation, they can access tips in the Parent Toolkit on the CASA Family Day website. Other valuable information can also be found in the toolkit, such as “connecting” with kids, preventing substance use, background facts on substance use, family activities and worksheets, and tips for talking to kids about substance use. To follow Family Day like their Partnership to End Addiction Facebook page, partnershiptoendaddiction on Instagram or @ToEndAddiction on Twitter. Family photos can be shared on social media using #NationalFamilyDay and #MyFamilySelfie.
This year’s sponsors are Quest Diagnostics, American Express, and ACOSTA. Partners include CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), Faith and Fabric, Fathers Incorporated, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), National Military Family Association, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Prevent Child Abuse America, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), Super Healthy Kids, The Family Dinner Project, and The Moyer Foundation.
Celebrate with parents nationwide and pledge to commit to:
Remember, parental engagement does make a difference, and prevention works!
Often when problem gambling makes headlines, the focus is on the financial toll and the devastation experienced by spouses, children, and other loved ones. Although these are very impactful consequences of someone’s gambling problem, it can unfairly vilify the person without providing insight into their own struggle.
Problem gambling is the result of gambling causing problems in someone’s life, which may include poor mental health, conflicts with friends and family, financial trouble, and the like. For many, their problems can be the result of gambling disorder, a diagnosable behavioral disorder. As we have learned with issues related to alcohol or drug use, this behavior cannot be boiled down to a moral failing or lack of discipline.
Mental health issues could be the cause or effect of a gambling problem. Some people may have started gambling for fun but now experience a compulsion or need to keep gambling. Others may use gambling to escape worry, stress, or trauma in their lives. Either situation can lead to painful depression, anxiety, shame, thoughts of suicide, all of which can decrease the ability to make positive, rational decisions.
Certainly, there may be consequences for which a person with a gambling problem must take responsibility. However, to ensure that he or she can make amends for wrongdoing and avoid future problems, we must promote the individual’s and family’s health and wellness through support, treatment and recovery for problem gambling and gambling disorder. The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is here to support anyone being negatively impacted by problem gambling. If you’re dealing with problems related to your own gambling or someone else’s, call (716) 833-4274 or email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org to speak with a caring and knowledgeable PGRC staff who will connect you to the resources that will best meet your needs. Recovery and healing are possible.
This September marks the 32nd National Recovery Month, an observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.
Recovery Month celebrates 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.
Each year, Recovery Month selects a new focus and theme to spread the message and share the successes of treatment and recovery. This year’s theme, “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community,” is meant to remind people in recovery and those who support them that no one is alone in the journey through recovery. The observance will work to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members who make recovery in all its forms possible.
As part of Recovery Month, National Addiction Professionals Day will be celebrated on September 20. This day was established by NAADAC (National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors) to commemorate the dedicated work that these vital players of the health system and continuum of care do on a daily basis.
Previously, Recovery Month was sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In June of 2020, SAMHSA announced its decision to retire its annual convening of Recovery Month stakeholders, the development of future themes and assets, and the management of the events calendar. For more information visit Recovery Month or Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. NAADAC now “carries the torch” for Recovery Month.
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!
School-aged children are facing their first exposure to the concept of a job. They have to show up at school every day, do what’s asked of them, and finish work at home for the next day. While it may be their first job, it’s not for you. You’re well-versed in the concept, but the job that you now have is new: getting them to do their homework.
This can be a tricky road to walk, so if you’re in need of a few tips, tricks, and tech tools to get your child to happily do their homework every day, here are a few of our favorites.
Family Matters, a subcommittee of Partners for Prevention in Allegany County, provides support and tools to help parents raise responsible children and to help foster healthy relationships in families. Visit our website and Facebook page for more information.
Who can get work done without a clean, organized space to do so? Make sure your child has a designated homework space where they don’t have to compete for the chance to get their work done. A well-lit section of the kitchen table, or a desk in their room, or even a corner of the living room (if they are not distracted by others) are all good options you can manage in your home. Scholastic recommends showing them how to organize their space and to keep it that way, as it’s a practical set of skills that can be carried into adulthood.
Nobody can work effectively without the right equipment, and your kids are no different. In this day and age, children use technology to cover the majority of their tools. Just like in adult workplaces, when a machine is clunky, outdated, or just slow, it becomes frustrating to operate.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options available for families, such as an iPad or Kindle Fire. With generous displays and computer-like speed and power, these tablets are up to snuff for schoolwork, surfing, and games. They’re also lightweight, portable choices that are both fun and practical, and parents can take advantage of parental controls to ensure kids don’t get too carried away in their use.
If you decide to buy a new device for your family, keep in mind that it can sustain damage from falls, dents, dings, and spills without proper care. Make sure you outfit your device with a good-quality case to reduce such worrisome incidents.
Just like a real job, your child needs to be responsible for his or her own work. It can be easy for involved parents to cross the line into being too involved in their child’s schoolwork, to the point that they just do the work for them. This is a terrible habit to get into, as it leads to lazy and unproductive kids. Be supportive and make yourself available to answer questions during homework time, but be sure that your child is doing the bulk of the work themselves.
Sometimes we don’t feel our best, and that’s okay! Remember that your child is just that – a child. If they’re not feeling well, vocalize to them that it’s okay to not feel 100%, but we still need to get our work done. Tell them about a time you had to finish something at work while you weren’t feeling the best.
Kids pick up your habits, so as HealthyPsych points out, they will learn through you that this is just a part of life. Homework may be the last thing they want to do when they’re feeling down, but help them to push through and they’ll feel rewarded for accomplishing something they didn’t think they could.
While this “work-life” may be a new thing to your child, don’t go too hard on them. Be understanding and supportive, so they know they can come to you with questions and struggles they encounter along the way. Help them, and provide them with the tools and resources they need, but don’t overshadow the work they’re doing themselves.
By Emily Graham of Mighty Moms.
Remember Prevention Works.