Advocates point to preventive treatment as drug overdoses surge in metropolitan area

At least seven people died from drug overdoses in the metropolitan area last week, and former drug addicts, treatment centers and lawmakers are now calling for a greater focus on treatment in hopes of promoting prevention. there is

Since last Thursday, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties have reported at least 24 overdoses, with seven deaths. Both municipalities responded through the distribution of NARCAN along with support teams in the hope of preventing further tragedies.

The national budget through the Opioid Reconciliation Fund included investments in resources such as hospital beds and outpatient centers. Rep. Phil Steck, who chairs the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee, said he was shocked that new investments to address the problem were not made within the budget.

“As far as putting mental health and substance abuse together, we need to have an interim or transitional program that states lack,” Steck said.

Max Bruno battled heroin addiction until the age of 25 and has now been sober for five years. He is currently a Certified Peer Recovery Advocate for the Rob Constantine Recovery Community and Outreach Center. He said his job required resources and turned his journey into an opportunity to help recovering people like himself.

“There are also many [people on] “There’s always a three-, six-, nine-month wait on the inpatient intermediate facility waiting list, and sometimes people die during that time,” Bruno said.

Following the spike in overdoses in Schenectady County, letters were sent to behavioral health providers listing available resources to disseminate this information. Rotterdam’s St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center, for example, hosts an outpatient service for people struggling with addiction, and program manager Jim Jeffries says he wants to make a difference, one person at a time. said to focus on.

“That’s the real key. The sooner the better. Of course, some people overdosed, but they just said thank you and left,” he says. “It’s not good for them and it’s not good for the police who sent them home. I’ve seen it happen.”

St. Peters has a walk-in detox unit, two inpatient rehab centers, six outpatient rehab clinics (similar to Rotterdam), and an extended stay program. But they also say that a test strip or a small gesture of naloxone can be a stepping stone to taking a bigger step.

“There are other ways to say harm reduction,” says Jeffries. “I’m not saying stop everything at once, but what you’re doing is unsafe.”

Marie Insonya of the Rob Constantin Recovery Community Outreach Center in Amsterdam turned a life of addiction into a life of support. She is also a peer recovery advocate and prison peer, working with those incarcerated. Because services like this helped her turn her life around.

“I don’t want my ongoing addiction to be my story,” she says. ”[What saved me] That’s when I finally found the right service in the community. I had a psychiatrist who had such a huge impact on my life. ”

Insonja and Bruno now dedicate their lives to promoting treatment for people facing addiction, hoping that treatment will prevent them in the future.

“It wasn’t until I started giving back to the community and people who helped me sober that I felt fully recovered,” says Bruno.

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