Picente Outlines New Community Partnership to Combat Heroin Epidemic

Program Is Funded With $50,000 in Partners in Prosperity Public Safety Funding

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr outlined new program aimed at combating opioid and heroin use in the community. The program, funded with $50,000 in Partners in Prosperity Public Safety money will be implemented in collaboration with the Oneida County Opiate Task Force and through the Center for Family and Life Recovery and is another step in Oneida County’s comprehensive approach to combating this epidemic.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports 20% of people ages 12 and older have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons at least once in their lifetime.  Nearly 14% of these people meet the criteria for abuse of, or dependence upon it. 

Of all Oneida County Residents in 2015 who admitted to substance abuse problems 35% admitted to using heroin. The average age of the user was 26-35. 2013 through 2015 there have been 77 opioid related deaths including 46 from Heroin.  From 2013 through 2015 Oneida County Jail inmates who are admitted heroin users have gone from 186 to 538, a 289% increase.

“We will continue to fight this epidemic through prevention, education and enforcement.  Today is another day where we have not sat back and done nothing but have continued to act.  We will bring educational programs to the most vulnerable of our community, our young people.  Our students will be given the information they need to help them make the right choices when confronted with the temptation to use opioids and heroin.” Said County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.

The Heroin Prevention Education Plan called Converse for Change includes five critical elements offering three levels of prevention (universal, selected and indicated).  Each level of the community is targeted in a way to get the message in a broad level (commercial) but the plan narrows to focus the message in smaller groups to reinforce that it is practiced and talked about daily.

Cassandra Sheets, CEO of the Center for Family Life and Recovery said  “Center for Family Life and Recovery, Inc. is pleased to work with the other partners of the Oneida County Heroin/Opiate Task Force to present this forum on Prescription Medications, as data shows that approximately 80% of new heroin users are coming to heroin after having abused prescription opioids.  We know that getting the public educated about the issues, providing tools for their use, and the access to RXMedReturn Units is key to keeping our community safe.”

The Heroin Prevention and Education Plan includes:

•         Production and airing of heroin education commercials;

•         Four educational sessions/community forums to be held as part of the Oneida County Heroin/Opiate Task Force;

•         RxMedReturn Units for all police departments

•         Literature will be made available to all school districts in Oneida County, law enforcement agencies, and libraries

•         family support group resources.

In addition to today’s announcement, Oneida County has created the Oneida County Opiate Task Force. We have partnerships with the state of New York to create peer support advocates and family navigators as well as an opiate treatment facility here in Oneida County.