Allegany Council Kicks Off October with the Bob Weigand Memorial Move-A-Thon

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.  On Saturday, October 3rd, the Prevention Department of the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., held the 22nd annual Bob Weigand Memorial Move-a-Thon at the Angelica Village Office.  Twenty-one people and three dogs 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 tortured and 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: “Be Happy.  Be Brave.  Be Drug Free.”

Bob Weigand had been born and raised in Horseheads, New York, and moved to Wellsville in 1978.  He had been a reporter for several newspapers in Elmira, Binghamton, Hornell, Syracuse, and Buffalo, and founded WJQZ Radio in 1986, where he served as station manager and news director.  In 1992, he was instrumental in establishing WZKZ Radio, where he remained as news director until retiring in 2006.  Bob was an active member in his church, in the Wellsville Lions Club, and Wellsville Volunteer Ambulance Corps. for over twenty years.  He served on the Allegany Council’s Board of Directors and was a staunch supporter of the recovery community.  When Bob lost his battle with cancer, the Council renamed the 5K after him for his all-around dedication to the community.  It is the silhouette of Bob and his dog, Kristen, that can be found on the Move-a-Thon T-shirt, as he faithfully attended the event with her, even after his cancer diagnosis.

This October, think about what you can do to promote a substance-free America.  One person can and does make a difference! 

Remember, prevention works!          

Risky Relationships: The Link Between Domestic Violence & Problem Gambling

Problem gambling may not be a common topic discussed during Domestic Violence Awareness Month; however, the link between domestic violence and problem gambling makes it important to bring awareness to this volatile relationship.

Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner, which may include physical violence; sexual, psychological, social, or financial abuse; harassment; and stalking.

A recent study of help-seeking gamblers found that forty-nine percent of participants reported being a victim of violence and 43% had perpetrated violence (Bellringer et al., 2017). A person with a gambling problem may experience intense mental and emotional distress which may be expressed through restlessness, irritability or violence. Someone’s gambling problem may also elicit similar distress from a loved one. The person gambling may be the perpetrator or victim of domestic violence.

Furthermore, there is already evidence that domestic violence increases during professional sporting events due to the emotions experienced from a “home team’s” upset loss, citing issues like consumption of alcohol, increased interactions with family during games, increased expectations for a positive outcome, and increased stress and anxiety. Our community, the state and the country are seeing increased availability and prevalence of sports gambling, daily fantasy sports, and the like. What happens when those high stakes are further intensified by having large sums of money on the line, potentially for multiple sporting events?

In many ways, this October is unlike any in the past, but some things remain constant – there are many people who will isolate themselves out of fear or shame and will not reach out for the help they need.  Domestic Violence Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to offer hope to those experiencing violence in the home.

Problem gambling and domestic violence can impact anyone. If you are experiencing domestic violence or problem gambling, confidential services are available:

Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) Local Allegany County residents can contact the 24 Hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-593-5322 or find local resources at ACCORD Corp.

Western Problem Gambling Resource Center: 716-833-4274 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; working with the gaming industry to promote responsible gambling; and promoting healthy lifestyles which foster freedom from problem gambling. Visit NYProblemGamblingHELP.org to learn more about the PGRC network

Seen Enough Tobacco Day – “Spirit Week”

Reality Check (RC) youth from schools across New York declared Tuesday, October 13, 2020 as the fourth annual Seen Enough Tobacco (SET) Day, which highlights the need for communities to protect children from the billions of dollars of tobacco marketing in places where kids can see it. The 13th was selected to underscore the alarming fact that the average age of a new smoker in New York is 13 years old.

To accentuate that they have seen enough of Big Tobacco’s deceptive tactics and marketing, Reality Check youth extended SET Day to a weeklong celebration and awareness building campaign on social media called SET Spirit Week.

While New York State’s recent ban on flavored e-cigarettes is a significant step toward reducing youth tobacco use, other flavored tobacco products, such as little cigars, chew and menthol cigarettes that are still on the market present an obstacle to decreasing tobacco use among young people and minority populations. Unfortunately, in Allegany County residents have access to flavored disposable vape products at Native owned stores, as they follow federal laws. Menthol use among Black communities is a direct result of the tobacco industry’s marketing practices and product manipulation. Tobacco companies add menthol to make cigarettes seem less harsh and more appealing to new smokers and young people. Essentially, menthol in tobacco products, makes it easier to start and harder to quit. Research indicates that:

· More than half (54%) of youth who smoke use menthol cigarettes.

· Young people and African Americans are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes than other groups.

· Over 7 out of 10 African American youth ages 12-17 years who smoke use menthol cigarettes.

Because one day is not enough to educate communities on the misleading tactics of the tobacco industry, Reality Check youth made October 13-October 16, 2020, Seen Enough Tobacco Spirit Week on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, October 13:  Youth champions and their leaders wore Reality Check branded merchandise and posted selfies promoting two messages: 13 is the average age of a new smoker in New York State; and Menthol cigarettes are marketed disproportionately to younger smokers.

Wednesday, October 14 was Wacky Wednesday

Youth posted selfies wearing something wacky with messaging:  Big Tobacco once had an anti-smoking ad that said “Tobacco is Wacko if you’re a Teen.”  

It didn’t prevent anyone from smoking — no surprise.

Thursday, October 15 was Hollywood Thursday

Youth posted selfies of themselves dressed like a celebrity with message:

Smoking in movies kills in real life. Support an R rating for movies that glamorize smoking.

Friday, October 16 is Flavor Friday

RC youth took selfies wearing green with message: 

Young people who start smoking with menthol cigarettes are more likely to become addicted and become long-term daily smokers; and, 7 out of 10 African American youth smokers smoke menthol.

Reality Check is a teen-led, adult-run program that seeks to prevent and decrease tobacco use among young people throughout New York State. 

For more information about Reality Check, visit realitycheckofny.org.

Reality Check New York empowers youth to become leaders in their community in exposing what they see as the manipulative and deceptive marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. The organization’s members produce change in their communities through grassroots mobilization and education. Reality Check in this area is affiliated with YOUR ORGANIZATION NAME).

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

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. This year marks not only the 75th observance of NDEAM, but also the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This year’s theme is: “Increasing Access and Opportunity.”

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 individuals 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, Allegany Arc’s Vice President 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 individuals 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 Allegany Arc’s ACHIEVE Career Consultants provide multiple avenues for individuals 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 Allegany ARC’s ACHIEVE Career Consultants.

Communication Frustration during COVID-19

What makes working in Allegany County so charming is that face to face discussions is still the best way to communicate and educate community members in Allegany County. Unfortunately, during COVID-19 many of our community events have been cancelled or, due to agency policy during this time, employees have not been able to be out and have a physical presence at farmer’s markets and other local activities. COVID-19 has also affected Partners for Prevention in Allegany County(PPAC) just like other agencies. Fortunately, the coalition has had a digital presence through their website www.ppaccentral.org and social media, which includes Facebook: PPAC Central, Instagram: ppac_central , and Twitter: @PPACcentral. On PPAC’s social media, you can find information on initiatives, events, activities, and contests.

The coalition is also adding a podcast, which is titled “585 Prevention”. Most of the podcasts will have a prevention theme, but flexibility exists to highlight any topic the coalition members would like to discuss and promote. The purpose of the podcast if to give community members the opportunity to learn about different prevention initiatives and local resources at their leisure. 585 Prevention will be distributed to many popular podcast apps, such as Spotify and Pocket Casts.

The hope is that through all these different means of communication, residents of Allegany County are still getting the messaging and information from local agencies. The biggest message is that “We are still here and working to make our community a better place to grow, live, work and play.”

More information about the coalition can be found at www.ppaccentral.org , please follow us on any of the social media platforms that you use to see what is going on with the coalition and in your community.

Remember Prevention Works!

31st National Recovery Month

This September marks the 31st 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, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections,” is meant to remind people in recovery and those who support them that all people have victories, as well as things we wish we had done differently.  Regardless of who we are, we all experience peaks and valleys in every area of life, and resilience is made possible through the strength, support, and hope from those we love, including our communities. 

Previously, Recovery Month was sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  In June, 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.  More information on Recovery Month can be found here.  NAADAC (National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors) is currently “carrying the torch” for Recovery Month.

On September 29, the National Council for Behavioral Health will be hosting a virtual “Recovery Month Luncheon” from 3:30-5 p.m.  Visit the Recovery Month website for further details. 

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! 

6th Annual Paint for Prevention

Last Saturday the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.(ACASA), Alfred University, and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County(PPAC) held their annual Paint for Prevention at Saxon Drive on Alfred University’s campus. The purpose of the event is to give students the opportunity to share their thoughts about alcohol, substance abuse, and other health topics in a creative way. The event was completely free for the students and were supplied with all the chalk, paint, and spray bottles they needed to create their artwork. While the students were creating their chalk masterpieces ACASA and PPAC staff were on hand to talk to the students about an array of topics. The event was able to take place as the artists were spaced out to maintain social distancing and wore masks when they could not socially distance.

Sixteen students participated, while many more stopped by and talked at the PPAC tent. One of the main topics of discussion was the increase in substance abuse during COVID-19 and what the students thought about the rise. Many gave positive alternatives to drinking alcohol from sketching to going for hikes to maintaining good mental health. First place went to Shelby Hoffstattev, Second Place went to Josie Fasolino and Third Place went to Amber Taggert. “Even though we hoped for more artists, it was great just to see the students out in the nice weather creating awesome chalk art,” said ACASA Community Educator Ann Weaver. If you would like to see more pictures please visit www.ppaccentral.org/paint-for-prevention/ , you can also follow PPAC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on PPAC Central.

Trauma in Appalachia

It is our hope that this message finds the people of Allegany County healthy and well as we navigate the economic, social, and medical challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic. During this already challenging time, America has again been confronted with the ongoing impact of our nation’s legacy of racial injustice and the trauma suffered by marginalized people in our society.

The purpose of this column is not to debate the presence of racially motivated trauma in American history, nor is it to argue about the ongoing impact of this trauma on specific groups of people. Both of these truths have been widely established and supported by theory and research in the social science literature.

The purpose of this column is to look specifically at the history of trauma and oppression experienced by the people of our own Appalachian region and to better understand the ongoing impact of this legacy. We look to use the current national focus on racial and regional social disparities as a call to action for the people of Allegany County to organize around our collective history in an effort to make the county a place where all children, adults and families can thrive.

In 1978, historian Henry D. Shapiro called the Appalachian region “a strange land inhabited by peculiar people” summarizing the popular view of Appalachia as a region and culture defined in terms of deficits and stereotypes.  In reality, our history may be better described as “valuable land inhabited by poor people”. Starting with the First Nation inhabitants of the land, Appalachians have experienced generational cycles of trauma caused by economic interest in our land and resources. These events have repeatedly threatened family livelihoods and–for First Nation people—the very existence of their culture. (For more information about the experiences of the Iroquois People, see the resources linked below.)

For the people of the Appalachian region, the experience of personal and community trauma related to the region’s boom/bust natural resource economy has shaped the way we see ourselves, our neighbors, and our world. Appalachian folk music is rich with narratives describing the personal dangers of working in the coal and timber industries along with the economic oppression experienced by families dependent on these industries. As Tennessee Ernie Ford sang about coal jobs in 1955, “You move sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” This pattern repeats (to some degree) in the region’s history from the 1800’s coal mining industry to the 2000’s natural gas fracking boom to the current debate about the AlleCatt Wind Farm (For an explanation of how the coal mining industry promoted and benefited from racial segregation and distrust between Black and White coal miners, see the article by Zwick (2018) cited below.

In addition to the personal traumas often suffered by families dependent on the dangerous jobs in the region’s natural resource economy, the widespread economic trauma of our region lies in the reality that our natural resources have made a great deal of money for outside investors while failing to provide widespread and sustained economic opportunities to lift local families out of poverty.  Perhaps the most devastating legacy of this history is that our community’s low socioeconomic status is a major predisposing factor for current childhood traumatic event exposure. Childhood trauma has long been established as a public health crisis that has a strong independent effect on adults’ medical, mental health, and social outcomes (Gelkoph, 2017). So we have a cycle that continues—economic and social difficulties create childhood trauma and childhood trauma creates medical and mental health problems that sustain economic and social difficulties.

Yet we also know Appalachia, and Allegany County specifically, is rich in the social resources that mitigate the harmful impact of personal and historic trauma on families and communities.  In the language of trauma informed care, we call these resources “social capital” and it means in our communities, we are deeply and personally connected to each other. We identify strongly with this place called Allegany County and we have strong social norms around our obligation to take care of our collective home and each other. During the COVID pandemic, we have seen these values on full display –from the #wellsvillestrong Facebook page to county-wide food distributions to the call to sew masks for our doctors and nurses. These protective capacities have a significant impact on social outcomes. In 2017, Zoorob studied the relationship between individual county’s social capital and the occurrence of opioid deaths and found a strong, inverse relationship between county measures of social capital and opioid mortality. Translation: our relationships with each other protect our children, neighbors, and community from the devastating social consequences of personal and historic trauma. We must continue to focus on this strength and engage our for-profit, non-profit and faith based institutions in efforts to build on it. For more information and ideas about how you can get involved, visit www.ppaccentral.org.

Trauma Informed Communities Throughout Allegany County (TIC TAC) seeks to build Trauma-Informed Care throughout Allegany County by empowering individuals, families and communities impacted by trauma.

For more information:

To learn about the history and culture of the Iroquois People, visit the Seneca Nation website or the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum.

For information about community food distributions, visit ACCORD Corporation’s Food Pantry.

Copeland W E, Shanahan L, Hinesley H, et al.  Association of Childhood Trauma Exposure with Adult Psychiatric DIsorders and Functional Outcomes JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(7): e184493. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4493

Gelkopf M. Social Injustice and the Cycle of Traumatic Childhood Experiences and Multiple Problems in Adulthood. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(7):e184488.

Zoorob, M. J., & Salemi, J. L. (2017). Bowling alone, dying together: The role of social capital in mitigating the drug overdose epidemic in the United States. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 173, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.12.011doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4488

Zwick, A. (2018). Comparison of the Coal and Fracking Industries in Northern Appalachia. Journal of Appalachian Studies, 24(2), 168–184. https://doi.org/10.5406/jappastud.24.2.0168

Get involved:

ACCORD is currently accepting volunteers for food distributions hosted by ACCORD at rotating sites throughout the community between Sept– Dec 2020, and for working in the food pantry, Monday-Thursday, 8am- 4pm, and Friday 8-3pm. Interested parties can contact Melissa Payne, Services Navigator, at (585) 268-7605 ext 1401.

New York Council on Problem Gambling Releases Campaign to Thank New York for Supporting Problem Gambling Services

NYCPGALBANY, New York – August 1st marked the passing of one year that accessible, effective and efficient services to treat individuals and families struggling with a gambling problem have been open statewide!

To mark this historic anniversary the New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) and its 7 New York State Problem Gambling Resource Centers (PGRC) will be sharing the successes of this new system during the month of August.  With a video montage and informative collateral, the Council will be widely sharing the gratitude of staff, clinicians and clients for these essential services.

Problem Gambling services were expanded greatly over the past few years with funds and support from The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (NYS OASAS).  “This new approach to providing statewide services has shown us not only the tremendous need that exists for the services, but that with Care and Concern, No Barriers to Care and a motto of Here to Help we’ve been able to create healthy, lasting change for NY families that just wasn’t accessible to this extent in prior years.” said Michelle Hadden, Assistant Executive Director, Program.

With these critical funds, over the past two years the Council in conjunction with OASAS has been able to:

  • train, vet and refer clients to 160 NYS Licensed Mental Health Professionals with specialized training in problem gambling
  • service 750 individuals and families in need of support for a gambling related problem
  • move 650 families towards wellness and recovery
  • provide services in multiple languages, telemedicine options, and evening family education and support sessions
  • coordinate with the legal system to reduce recidivism through treatment of the underlying problem
  • raise awareness in communities and organizations at the local and state level
  • support gaming facilities in providing self-excluded individuals with information on problem gambling and available local resources

The new video and additional materials share more about the positive outcomes of services like these that can’t always be measured in numbers.  We welcome additional feedback from any individuals, families and partners who’ve benefited from the services and relationships we have to offer.  The gratitude video and success materials can be found at NYProblemGambling.org/Resources/Downloadable-Resources/.  For further information on the PGRC system and help in your area visit NYProblemGamblingHELP.org.

Does Drinking Alcohol Increase Your Risk for COVID-19? 2 Doctors Explain.

According to a recent article written by Mercey Livingston on 7/25/20, Dr. Edo Paz, Medical Director at K Health, and Dr. Tom Moorcroft, founder of Origins of Health, discuss the above topic for educational and informational purposes only.  Three relevant areas include the immune system, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and sleep.

The immune system, which keeps us healthy and protects us from illness, cannot function at maximum capacity if it is weakened by a substance such as alcohol.  The result is higher susceptibility to contracting any contagious illness, including COVID-19.  In addition, if alcohol is present in a person’s system when he/she comes into contact with a virus, the body’s chances of fighting it off are decreased.  This is due to the fact that it is easier for the pathogen (virus) to “take hold” and lead to an infection.

Alcohol also alters gut bacteria, which also affects the immune system.  Short and long term alcohol use can impair immune function because it leads to changes in microbiome, which are the organisms in the intestines that aid in normal gut function.  It can also lead to cell damage of the gut wall that can lead to leakage of microbes in the bloodstream, triggering inflammation.

ARDS can occur with COVID-19 and happens when fluid fills the lungs and prevents the body from getting enough oxygen.  This can result in death or severe lung damage, and heavy drinking and alcohol use can increase the risk for this on its own.  Healthy lungs are linked to a healthy immune system, and long term alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of developing ARDS, as the body is less able to ward off infection.

The final area discussed in the article is related to sleep, crucial for overall health and especially the immune system.  Skimping on sleep can lower proteins in the body that fight inflammation and infection, making a person more susceptible to illness.  For information on how GABA and melatonin (sleep hormones) are affected, visit the complete article at www.cnet.com at the above title.

In summary, the suggestion in the article is to avoid alcohol in order to keep the immune system functioning at its best.  If a person twenty-one or older does drink socially, consuming less is better.

For those who suffer from immunosuppression, are considered immunocompromised, and/or have a pre-existing medical condition, alcohol should be completely avoided.

For those who are struggling with alcohol use at this challenging time, help is available.  Contact Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse at 585-583-6738 to schedule an appointment.  Visit the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County for resources.

Remember, Prevention Works!