Day of Remembrance for Those Lost to Opioid Addiction and Their Loved Ones.
On March 6th The Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, Allegany County Health Department, Substance Use Disorder Sub-Committee, The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc., and Local Law Enforcement agencies from Cuba, Wellsville, Andover and Belmont came together to remember and pay tribute to the individuals who have succumbed to opioid addiction in Allegany County. The display of black balloons outside the Allegany County Sheriff’s office and other local law enforcement agencies pay silent tribute to the victims of opiate addiction. The event’s objective is to increase awareness of the daily struggles faced by members of our community who suffered the loss of a loved one, and those who are still battling, working tirelessly to help their loved one manage their addiction.
“We are truly saddened by the loss of members of our community to opioid addiction, “said Kay Middaugh, Substance Use Disorder Coordinator for Allegany County. Their memories inspire us to work together to help others affected by opioid addiction overcome this challenge and prevent additional lives lost.
Black Balloon Day is a nationwide commemoration that originated in Peabody, Massachusetts by Lauren and Diane Hurley. Our mission is to support, participate in advocacy efforts and to develop an integrated support network for family and friends dealing with the effects of addiction in a loved one. It is hoped that if every person in America affected by this epidemic hung a black balloon outside their house, the widespread nature of addiction would be apparent and recognized in each community.
Help, Hope, Healing!
This is the focus of a new Allegany County community outreach to aid individuals and families who are struggling with a variety of life issues. The Hope Center, a ministry of the Mission Genesee Valley coalition of churches, other Christian organizations, and individuals opened in November at 4194 Bolivar Road – Suite 5 in Wellsville, across the driveway from the McDonald’s drive-through.
Since that time it has been recruiting and training volunteers, assisting children and adults particularly those with reading needs, and presenting educational workshops for individuals and churches. Although the major emphasis currently is on developing the reading assistance component, the overall goal is much broader, recognizing individual needs within each of 13 life stages the group has identified, from preconception to post-death, all of which can experience elements of trauma.
The ministry is available to individuals and families of any religious background. It includes a drop-in center where individuals can receive prayer for personal, family or other concerns, information and referral assistance, and connection to applicable resources for a variety of life issues. The center has a growing Christian lending library that also offers free books and videos, the reading assistance ministry, and educational seminars to help consumers learn about issues and resources that address various needs, and help churches to understand more about the issues parishioners are facing and how to come alongside those who may be struggling.
The center dubbed A Hub of Hope of Allegany County Churches, also is intended over time to assist churches in other population centers to develop similar ministries that reflect individual community needs.
The efforts are being taken methodically to help ensure the number of volunteers and those seeking services remain in balance. God has been providing a variety of assistance and resources, including color-coordinated furnishings from different donors, as He steadily refines the activities offered. The initiative started when local businessman Michael Raptis was led to donate space in a recently purchased set of storefronts at the Bolivar Road location. Further information is available at Hope Center Allegany County, firstname.lastname@example.org or (484) 435-0503.
-Casey Jones, Hope Center Planning Group Chair
During COA Awareness Week, you can be a part of NACoA’s annual international awareness and advocacy campaign, helping to spread the word that children living in families that struggle with addiction need the support of caring adults. Through awareness activities we can inspire adults to be there for the children who suffer silently, and together we can reach kids and teens with important information.
Children living with addiction need to know it’s not their fault when a parent struggles with addiction. They also need to understand that these parents have a disease, and learn how to separate the disease of addiction from the parent they love. During COA Awareness Week, do what you can to speak out, reach out, and raise awareness about the silent victims of addiction: the children. These children are often the first hurt and the last helped, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a difference with your support and attention during COA Awareness Week.
By doing one (or many!) of these COA Awareness Week activities, you can make a difference in the lives of children. And remember: It only takes one caring and supportive adult to take action and empower a child of addiction.
Whether in your home, your neighborhood, your school, your congregation, or in your family, you can let a child know that you care and you are available to listen. And, by modeling healthy behavior, you can also shine brightly in the darkness of fear and confusion that oftentimes can overwhelm them. Your compassion is powerful. Use it to help empower children, the silent victims of addiction. Visit the National Association for Children of Addiction’s for more information.
This January 22th marks the ninth 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 and video that parents can use to talk to their kids about substance abuse, and is free to download. One of the myths that young people in Allegany County have is that their peers are all using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. The reality is much different; the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Inc.’s(ACASA) Risk and Protective Survey that is completed every two years in 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades tells us the truth about substance use among our young people.
All of these statistics are encouraging about how much our young people in Allegany County are using substances.
As a parent you might not think that your child listens to you when you speak to them about important topics, such as substance use, but they do! The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services(OASAS) has Talk2Prevent to help parents help them speak to their children about substances and give them the correct information about substances. Remember to “Talk Today, Tomorrow and Always – Don’t Ever Stop Talking” because they might not admit or act like it, but they are listening.
Here are five facts to use each day of this week to help start the conversation with your children about drugs and other substances.
Monday: Young people who drink alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who abstain until age 21. Brains develop until age 24, and young brains become damaged more quickly than adult brains.
Tuesday: Marijuana can speed the heart rate up to 160 beats per minute, dilate the blood vessels so the whites of the eyes turn red, and cause feelings of panic that include sweating, dry mouth, and breathing difficulties.
Wednesday: Inhalants can cause permanent damage to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and bones. Sudden Sniffing Death is death by suffocation, which occurs when inhaled fumes take the place of oxygen in the lungs and brain.
Thursday: Withdrawal symptoms from prescription opioid abuse include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, sleep problems, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goosebumps, and involuntary leg movements.
Friday: Anabolic steroids are bad for the heart, cause damage to the liver, and halt bone growth. This means that a teenage steroid user may not grow to his/her full adult height.
Aggressive behavior may be triggered by steroid abuse and is known as “roid rage”.
Saturday: Tobacco use and secondhand smoke cause illnesses such as lung cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems. One of every three cancer deaths is caused by smoking. Average smokers lose more than 10 years of life because they smoke.
Sunday: Vapor products may seem harmless because of their flavors and names, but most of them contain the highly addictive chemical nicotine and contain many of the same dangerous chemicals and carcinogens that are found in regular cigarettes. All JUUL pods contain nicotine.
NIDA’s “Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse” report highlights five questions relevant to parenting skills that help prevent the initiation and progression of youth drug use. The questions emphasize calm and clear communication about relationship issues, encouraging positive behaviors on a daily basis, negotiating emotional parent/teen conflicts and working toward a solution, ability to set limits when behavior ranges from defiant or disrespectful to more serious problem behavior, and monitoring teens to assure that they are not spending too much time unsupervised. Visit the NIDA’s Family Checkup page for a copy of these questions 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.
For youth organizations, such as schools NIDA offers Chat Day on January 24. Chat Day is am annual live online chat held between high school students and NIDA scientists. Students from around the country ask the questions they most want the answers to about drugs and drug misuse, including drug effects, how to help friend or famiy that are abusing drugs, and what causes addiction. NIDA’s expert scientists give them the facts. Register for Chat Day here.
We can all do our part by supporting our youth, getting the facts, and remembering that PREVENTION WORKS!
A Christ-centered recovery ministry for all types of life issues and struggles grew in Allegany County last year but seeks to expand its success in 2019. Celebrate Recovery, offered weekly at three churches and to both men’s and women’s groups at Allegany County Jail, now has the most groups per population of any New York county.
Additional groups started meeting fully last year at:
Celebrate Recovery is an international year-around ministry developed over 25 years ago at Saddleback Church in California, pastored by Rick Warren, author of the long-time best-selling book, Purpose Driven Life. Available in nearly 30,000 churches world-wide and more than 380 U.S. jails and prisons, the ministry differs from other 12 Step programs in that it is Christ-centered and Biblically-based but open to individuals of all faith backgrounds. Over 70 percent of beginning Celebrate Recovery participants are not members of host churches and many are without any religious background.
Eight Principles, based on the Beatitudes in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5:3-10 of the Bible, run parallel to the 12 Steps. Both reflect healing from all types of hurts, hangups, struggles, and destructive habits and behaviors, including common addictions. Many hurts and struggles originate from trauma experienced as a child or young adult.
Celebrate Recovery is seeking additional host churches due to attendee travel constraints. Further information is available from Casey Jones, ministry facilitator, or call (484) 435-0503.