January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and this year’s theme is “Best for You. Best for Baby”. Leading prenatal health experts from the National Birth Defects Prevention Network, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, and MotherToBaby have partnered to increase awareness to reduce the chances of babies born with birth defects. One critical area is that of avoiding harmful substances during pregnancy, such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. A developing baby is exposed to the same concentration of alcohol as the mother during pregnancy, which can result in a wide range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. Alcohol and tobacco use can each increase the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Alcohol use may also make it more difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
Tobacco use in any form can harm an unborn baby. Carbon monoxide, a toxic gas found in cigarette smoke, lowers oxygen levels in the mother’s blood, which means there is also less oxygen for the baby. Nicotine, the addictive drug found in tobacco, reduces blood flow by causing blood vessels to narrow. This means that fewer nutrients can reach the baby. Pregnant women who smoke have more problems with pregnancy and delivery than nonsmokers do and may have a baby with low birth weight.
Chemicals in marijuana pass through the mother and can harm a baby’s development, and opioid exposure during pregnancy can cause Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a condition in which the newborn experiences withdrawal from the substance and possible premature birth.
Let’s support our future generation of babies by encouraging potential mothers to choose a healthy lifestyle free of substances! Be an active participant in this important Prevention Month by following and sharing #Best4YouBest4Baby messages on social media, and visit the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) website for “Five Tips for Preventing Birth Defects”.
For assistance with a substance use disorder, call the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse’s Clinic at 585-593-6738.
Remember, prevention works!
Winter is a great time to get outside and enjoy the abundant recreational activities that the natural resources in Allegany County have to offer. There are over 50,000 acres of DEC managed state lands in the county, which offer great opportunities even throughout the long, cold winter months. As with any time of year, preparedness provides the key to a safe and fun outing, but in winter this becomes even more critical.
Cross country skiing can be one of the best forms of exercise and is a way to view the backcountry and observe nature in winter. There are numerous designated ski trails about, particularly on the Phillips Creek and Turnpike State Forests in Ward and West Almond. In addition, many informal trails on state land are open for skiing, as well as seasonal forest roads that are left unplowed in winter. When there is a great enough snow depth, snowshoeing can be another interesting alternative; or if there is less snow, this can be one of the best times for hiking – without any specialized equipment, when muddy areas are solid, and the lack of leaves on the trees offer vistas not available the rest of the year.
Be prepared for your outing by telling someone your plans and by knowing the area you will be going to. Carry your phone and a GPS unit, if you have one. Learn to use a map and compass; there is no battery to go dead, and you will have even more confidence as you travel through the woods.
Dress in layers; as you are moving you may want to shed an extra shirt or jacket, but if you stop for a break or get stranded, you will quickly become cold. Hypothermia can easily result this time of year when your body sweats from exercise, and with no means to get dry when you stop. Protect your extremities from frostbite with appropriate cover.
Bring a small day pack with some dry layers, snacks, and a means to start a fire in an emergency, as well as a flashlight with extra batteries. (We all know how early it gets dark this time of year!) With your pack, be sure to carry plenty of water. Dehydration is an often- overlooked danger in winter. You may feel less thirsty than you would in summer from the same amount of exertion, but your fluid level must still be maintained. Thirst is not the first indicator of dehydration!
There are several good bodies of water in Allegany County for ice fishing, with some of the most popular locations at Allen Lake, Cuba Lake, and Alma Pond. Make sure that the ice is safe before you set foot on to it. Lake and pond ice should be at least four to six inches thick to provide a safe layer for pedestrian traffic. This alone does not guarantee safety – avoid locations of moving water underneath the ice, such as springs or outlets, which will weaken even a thickly frozen depth. Slushy and wet areas indicate that the ice may be too thin to support weight due to warming conditions or disturbance. Pockets or edges of open water are also clear signs that the ice may not be safe.
With around 380 miles of groomed trails, Allegany County is a snowmobiler’s paradise. Many of these trails cross state lands, and many more miles have been provided by landowners to ride on private parcels in between. Know your ability and be familiar with the operation of your machine. Travel in at least pairs whenever possible and stick to the designated trails, both for safety and out of respect for the landowners. Do not attempt to cross frozen lakes or ponds. Be prepared as with any other outing.
The Allegany County Federation of Snowmobilers is made up of eleven local chapters. Their members volunteer to maintain the extensive network of trails. They can provide information on any locally scheduled safety courses.
Remember that it is against the law to operate a snowmobile when under the influence of alcohol or drugs and doing so can be just as deadly as driving a motor vehicle. It can be fun to stop at one of the many establishments along the trails and enjoy a meal or refreshments, but please do so responsibly!
All the public land here in Allegany is free to visit; there are no fees to do so. These areas belong to YOU, and are yours to use and enjoy. But with ownership comes responsibility: Please leave the land and water in its natural state as you found it – Leave No Trace!
New York State Forest Rangers are police officers of the Division of Forest Protection, within the Department of Environmental Conservation, and are a cooperating agency with the Partners for Prevention in Allegany County. They are responsible for the care, custody, and control of DEC lands; wildfire suppression, prevention, and investigation; and wildland search and rescue. For more information, please use the phone numbers and websites below.
Remember Prevention Works!
Forest Ranger Justin Thaine (Allegany County): 585-415-1521
Division of Lands and Forests (State Forest management in Allegany County): 585-466-3241
Most people know that impaired driving is a bad idea and that it is illegal in all fifty states, but what does impaired driving really mean? Historically, information and enforcement has been focused on drunk driving prevention, but recently, driving while under the influence of drugs has become a real issue, comparable to drunk driving. In fact, in New York State during the years of 2013-2017, there was a yearly average of 317 alcohol related traffic fatalities, as compared with 255 drug related traffic fatalities. Both drunk driving and drugged driving is impaired driving.
So, what is “drugged driving”? According to the New York State Vehicle and Traffic law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while the driver’s ability to drive is impaired by the use of a drug or a combination of drugs (1192-4 and 1192-4A). A “drug” is defined as any substance that is listed in section 3306 of the public health law, which are too numerous to list here, but include legally prescribed medications and illegal drugs (marihuana, heroin, cocaine, etc.). However, the distinction is not the drug, but rather the impairment. Driving a motor vehicle safely requires awareness, concentration, ability to multitask, muscle coordination and the mental ability to process and react quickly. Any impairment of these abilities makes it unsafe and illegal to drive. Therefore, if a drug is causing impairment, it is drugged driving.
What is the difference between “drugged driving” and “driving while intoxicated”? Drug impairment is more complex that alcohol impairment. As mentioned above, a “drug” is one of a large number of possible substances that may cause impairment. Unlike alcohol impairment, which is detectable and measurable through standardized field sobriety tests and breath/blood samples, drug impairment has a variety of expressions, based on the actual drug or drugs involved and a much more detailed set of tests must be conducted to narrow down the drug impairment. Specially trained officers, Drug Recognition Experts, are often called upon to assist in suspected drug impairment investigations.
What can we do about it? Check yourself first. If you are taking any medications, consult your doctor, read the labels and information provided and make sure you are safe to drive while taking the medications. Don’t use illegal drugs and don’t take medication that was not prescribed for you. If you choose to use a drug that causes impairment, do not drive. Find a sober friend or family member, hire a taxi, use a ride sharing service, or use public transportation or some other alternative. Check others next. Talk to your friends and family about drugged driving and make sure they are informed and are making wise decisions. Check the roads. Be careful around other drivers that appear to be impaired. If you see repeated driving behavior that you believe is a result of impairment or you witness an accident, please call 911 to report it.
2019 Great American Smokeout Messaging Educates Community on E-cigarette Flavors
Fillmore, NY – Students from Fillmore’s Reality Check program marked 2019’s Great American Smokeout (GASO) by painting windows of the local Shop and Save to with the message: “Sweet flavs lead to outrageous behaviors.”
E-cigarette use among teens is on the rise, creating an emerging public health concern. Since New York State health officials began tracking e-cigarette use in 2014, use by high school students increased from 10.5 percent to 27.4 percent in 2018. New national data shows that vaping among high schoolers jumped 78 percent from last year, with middle school vaping increasing by 48 percent.
The high school senior vaping rate in Allegany County is 38.5 percent, which is 2 percent higher than the New York State average.
Jonathan Chaffee, Reality Check Youth Coordinator at Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties (TF-CCA), says young people’s attraction to vapes has to do largely with the fruity flavors they come in.
“Kids and parents: Don’t let sweet talking messages and flavors like mint, crème and mango from Juul fool you,” said Chaffee. “Each JUUL pod delivers the same amount of addictive nicotine as 20 cigarettes.”
Chaffee also noted that young people who vape are four times more likely to use traditional cigarettes in the future.
The most popular e-cigarette manufacturer, JUUL, has played a major role in the youth vaping epidemic. The company, which is partially owned by Big Tobacco company Altria, never submitted its products to the independent, clinical testing needed to clearly understand the products’ long term effects.
GASO was established in 1976 to get smokers to quit for one day and make a plan to quit for good. For more information on help quitting, Allegany County residents can contact ACASA’s Community Educator Ann Weaver at (585) 593-1920 x713 or the New York State Quitline.
Reality Check, a teen-led, adult-run program, educates the community on youth smoking and vaping, the deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry, and how policies can change social norms around tobacco sales and use.
For more information on Reality Check, visit www.realitycheckofny.com.
About Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany
Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany is funded through the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control and is a part of Tobacco-Free Western New York, managed by Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Learn more about Tobacco-Free Western New York at tobaccofreewny.com.
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has once again announced that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has issued a proclamation that designates the month of November as STOP-DWI month. The New York State Special Traffic Options for Driving While Intoxicated (STOP-DWI) Program was established in November of 1981 to coordinate state and local efforts to reduce impaired-driving offenses and to prevent crashes across the state. Since the program was enacted, fatalities from alcohol-related crashes on New York’s roadways have decreased 74 percent. Over the past year in Allegany County, we have also seen a decrease in DWI arrests. There also has been a change in leadership. Long-time Coordinator Linda Edwards retired at the end of last year, and was replaced by Brian Perkins. It hasn’t changed the commitment to making our roads safer and working toward zero alcohol related deaths on our roadways.
STOP-DWI month falls in November for a couple reasons. First, to acknowledge the anniversary of the establishment of the program. Second, it is a very important time to relay the message of the program. With the Holiday season approaching, 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.
Remember Prevention Works!
Andover and Cuba– On Saturday, October 26 the Allegany County Fall Pill Drop was held in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Andover and Cuba were chosen for the fall locations. The pill drop events allow residents the opportunity to get rid of unused, expired, or unwanted medications and provides the partners the opportunity to educate on the location of the pill drop boxes throughout Allegany County. In Cuba there is a drop box located at the Cuba Police Department, 15 Water Street. For Andover residents the closest pill drop boxes are located at: the Alfred Pharmacy, 36 North Main Street, Alfred State University Police, 10 Upper College Drive and at the Wellsville Police Department, 46 South Main Street and Jones Memorial Hospital, 191 North Main Street. The pill drop boxes are available all year long and for anyone to use.
This event was held in partnership with the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. (ACASA), the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, the Andover and Cuba Police Departments, and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County (PPAC). Medications and Sharps waste was accepted from 10am to 2pm. Between the two locations, a total of 64 cars stopped and 106 pounds of medications and two boxes of Sharps water was turned in by community members. “The pill drops continue to be an asset to the community and the Cuba Police Department is proud to be associated with this great initiative,” stated Chief Dustin Burch of the Cube Police Department.
Each car that stopped received a Take It To The Box magnet, which lists all of the pill drop box locations throughout Allegany County. In addition to those previously mentioned, there are boxes at: the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office and Nicholson Pharmacy in Belmont, Fillmore Pharmacy, Friendship Pharmacy, and Jones Memorial Medical Practice in Bolivar.
The pill drop events and boxes are completely anonymous and confidential. Once the Sheriff’s Office has collected the medications, they are transported to an undisclosed location for incineration. Incinerating the medications makes them harmless to the environment. “The pill drop events allow us to educate the community on safe storage, safe use, and safe disposal of medications and where the drop boxes are located throughout county” states PPAC Coordinator Jonathan Chaffee. “We are also able to educate community members on disposal of Sharps waste, most community members do not know that they can dispose of Sharps waste at any transfer station in Allegany County for free.”
“The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Andover and Cuba community for utilizing the pill drops to safely dispose of their unwanted medications,” stated Undersheriff Kevin Monroe. “By collecting and destroying these substances, we greatly reduce the amount available to find their way onto our streets and into the hands of our youth.”
The agencies involved would like to send out a special “Thank You” to Andover and Cuba Fire Departments for giving us a space to hold the pill drop events. The next pill drop event will not be until April, 2020. The Allegany County pill drops have been held since 2007, more information about the pill drop box locations can be found at https://ppaccentral.org/pill-drop-locations/.
For many, October 1st signifies the first day that it is acceptable to decorate for Halloween, drink pumpkin spice lattes, and enjoy the cool sweater weather of fall. However, for agencies like Cattaraugus Community Action and ACCORD, October 1st signifies the first day of something else – National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This awareness is vital to our communities.
Awareness about domestic violence may include recognizing that the need for services for domestic violence victims is rising, yet there are unfortunately times when needs cannot be met not being met due to budgetary restraints or cuts. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), 74,823 domestic violence victims were served in the same day in 2018, higher than the 72,245 reported in 2017. Whether these reports are due to a rise in domestic violence or individuals becoming more comfortable coming forward, it’s still important to note that the need for services is rising.
Awareness may also include recognizing that domestic violence and abuse can take many forms, including but not limited to: physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse. Financial abuse is a lesser known concept, yet according to the NNEDV, it occurs in 99% of domestic violence cases and is a major contributor to victims returning or not leaving their abuser. Financial abuse may include the abuser: withholding/controlling money, assets, and bank accounts, not allowing the victim to work, and/or stealing from the victim. In August of this year, Governor Cuomo signed legislation to broaden the definition of the crime of domestic violence to include forms of economic abuse such as identity theft, grand larceny and coercion.
For the past 4 years New York State has had the highest demand for domestic violence services, so it is important that we recognize the many different forms and ensure that victims have access to resources. Hotlines are available in every county in NYS for individuals to call if they have questions or concerns.
There are free and confidential resources available in the community, no one has to go through this alone. For Allegany County, please contact ACCORD (1-800-593-5322.) For Cattaraugus County, please contact Cattaraugus Community Action (1-888-945-3970.)
Remember Prevention Works!
Monday, September 23rd, marks the 19th 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. Televisions, cell phones, and other mobile devices should be turned off during dinner so each person can share the day’s events without distractions. This includes involving family members in preparation and clean-up. 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 newly revised 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.
This year’s presenting sponsor is Quest Diagnostics. Partners include CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America), 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), The Family Dinner Project, The Kids Time, and The Moyer Foundation.
Celebrate with parents nationwide and pledge to commit to:
Spend time with your kids by playing games, taking a walk, or enjoying another family activity.
Talk to them about their friends, interests, and the dangers of using substances.
Answer their questions and listen to what they say.
Recognize that parents have the power to keep their kids substance-free! A warm, supportive relationship between parents and their children is linked to better judgement, increased self-control, and resilience, which are strengths that help reduce the risk of future drug use.
This September marks the 30th National Recovery Month, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to this year’s toolkit, one facet of this year’s theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger,” emphasizes that the need to share resources and build networks across the country to support the many paths to recovery affirms the vital role that young people play in this effort. An estimated 345,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 had a substance use disorder and a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Young people (ages 12-25) who show passion, drive, innovative thinking, and a commitment to their communities represent a key population that can promote fresh, creative ideas in the prevention, treatment, and recovery from mental and substance use disorders. Not only does this age group have the resilience to recover, but they are also building blocks for the future. By providing a platform and voice for the nation’s emerging leaders, we show that investing in the future is just as important as honoring the past.
Free, confidential help is available 24 hours daily through SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD). You can find more information at Recovery Month. Locally, counseling is available at the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., at 585-593-6738.
This August 31 marks the 19th International Overdose Awareness Day, started in Melbourne, Australia, in 2001. Sally Finn, a manager of the Salvation Army syringe program, saw the sorrow that families experienced when they lost their loved ones to a drug overdose. When she realized that the families were unable to express their grief due to the stigma of drug use, Sally arranged an event that would allow families to commemorate the memories of their departed loved ones. Six thousand ribbons were distributed that day, and the awareness day has been supported every year since then.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are several ways to make a difference on this global event day:
• Hold a candlelight vigil.
• Offer an educational program, such as one related to preventing opioid use, in partnership with a local organization.
• Provide a safe space for telling the stories of overdose victims.
• Offer a large canvas and washable paint so survivors can add a handprint in memory of their loved one.
• Display empty hats or shoes to represent the number of lives lost in the community.
• Use the NSC Community Action Kit as a planning guide.
• Become a Safety Ambassador by hosting a community fundraising event.
• Access the NSC Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NatlSafetyCouncil/) to get a purple frame for your Facebook profile image.
• Share the NCS Facebook Live virtual candlelight vigil on August 30.
• Add the name of a loved one who died of an opioid overdose to the “Celebrating Lost Loved Ones” map.
• Purchase or create purple wristbands, pins, shirts, or other items to be worn on August 31.
• Research state and federal legislation that addresses opioid overdose prevention, and write to your representative.
• Support NSC (/forms/donate) efforts to end the opioid crisis by making a gift in honor of a loved one.
In Allegany County the agency that deals with preventing opioid use is the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.(ACASA). ACASA handles opioid use through education programs that the Prevention staff present in the local schools to educate our young people. ACASA offers treatment programs through the clinic to help the community with opioid use.
ACASA, Partners for Prevention in Allegany County(PPAC) and the Sheriff’s Office offers and promotes the Take It To the Box program, which gives community members places to dispose of their unwanted or unused medications. The Take It To the Box locations are throughout Allegany County at: Alfred Pharmacy, Alfred State’s University Police(Theta Gamma House), the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, Cuba Police Department, Fillmore Pharmacy, Friendship Pharmacy, Jones Memorial Hospital, Jones Memorial Medical Practice in Bolivar, Nicholson Pharmacy, and the Wellsville Police Department.
Twice a year these three agencies also participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s(DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Days, offering two more locations in the community to drop off medications. Take It To the Box and the biannual pill drops have had over a million dollars in street value of medications turned in by the community. For more information on ACASA’s Prevention Department and Clinic visit http://www.alleganycouncil.org. For more information on PPAC and the Take It To the Box program visit http://www.ppaccentral.org.