Two north country Community Opioid Forums will be held next week, bringing together “people in the know” to share insight into how opioid addiction treatment, recovery and prevention are being handled in Jefferson and Lewis counties and what more needs to be done.
The meetings will be:
n Aug. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Lowville Fire Department, 5420 Parkway Drive;
n Aug. 22, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Harrisville Fire Department.
Another meeting was held Aug. 6 in Alexandria Bay.
Pat Fontana of the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, said the group is hoping to gather “qualitative,” county-specific information from people “in the know,” which may include those in recovery, treatment professionals, law enforcement personnel and family members or supporters of those battling opioid addiction among others.
“You always want to focus on addiction in general, but in this situation, we’re looking at it from the opioid perspective specifically.” Mr. Fontana said.
FDRHPO is working on behalf of Pivot, the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County Inc., to support a planning grant from Health Resources and Services Administration.
“Addiction treatment for people using opioid-based drugs is different from the treatment of those addicted to alcohol or other drugs, mainly because of the common use of “treatment medications” like methadone, suboxone and Vivitrol injections, said Pivot Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County, Inc. Director of Client and Community Services Jenn Lachenauer.
Mr. Fontana said opioid overdoses increased by 70 percent from 2015 and 2016 and by another 70 percent from 2016 to 2017 in the north country region.
“The rate of increase since 2004 has been alarming,” Mr. Fontana said, noting that the overall trends can easily be seen in the statistics even without data from 2018.
While only people at least 18 years old are allowed to participate in these forums, Mr. Fontana said that they would be open to hearing from those who are younger who want to share their insight, too, at another time.
Forum participants must live or work in Lewis County, or the towns of Alexandria, Clayton or Wilna.
Advance registration is required by calling 315-755-0720.