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Board of Supervisors Hears Report on Youth Drug Addiction

Written By Editor on 10/25/16 | 10/25/16

On Friday, October 21st the County Board of Supervisors heard a report from Norine Hodges at the Schoharie County Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, or SCCASA. She presented as part of the organization's twelve year strategic plan intended to take place between 2006 and 2018.

Over the last ten years the group has been attending local schools with the goal of reducing alcohol and drug use by 85% during the twelve years. The organization works with the Cobleskill-Richmondville, Schoharie, and Middleburgh Central School districts to monitor the amount of substance abuse and other key factors affecting young people. It also works with Jefferson and Sharon Springs on other programs to prevent drug addiction.

The agency has worked on a number of programs, including staff trainings, parent training, and adult presentations. Currently, there is one full time and two part time staff members, with flat state funding since 2006. Hodges asked the County Board to request more funding from the state.

According to Hodges' presentation, approximately 45-50% of students believe in positive factors that help prevent drug addiction. She was proud to present that this year represents the first group of students graduating that went K-12 through the program.

The statistics are stark. In 2006 almost half of local 12th graders had friends that used drugs. In 2013, the most recent statistics available, that number had fallen to 29.4%. There was a similar story with 8th graders that used alcohol in the past 30 days. In 2006, that number was 31%. In 2013 it was 14%. In 2006 66% of 12th graders had used alcohol in the previous month, with 51.5% using it in 2013.

Hodges cited heroin as a major issue for the area. She said that opiod treatment "restructures the brain." She referred to opiate addiction as a "cognitive disease." She also mentioned a twenty year cycle of opiod drug use in the County that overlapped with the age of Oxycontin. Hodges said that in many ways, doctors were penalized for not prescribing painkillers.

New anti-opiod drugs help, Hodges said, but often the problem are parents that are addicted. Their children are often in foster care. Such cases have doubled in Schoharie County. She would like to increase communication between doctors and treatment options. There are currently two drug drop-off stations in the county, including one at the Cobleskill Police Station. Typically, the group collects a hundred pounds of meds per pickup. She also cited concern about sharps, including needles, around the area.

Supervisor Leo McAllister of Cobleskill recommended presentations at every town meeting. Supervisor Larry Bradt of Carlisle complimented SCCASA and asked where the drugs were coming from. Hodges replied that the former drug center in the area was Schenectady, but recently has been Syracuse. Both agreed that sealing the border with Mexico would help the problem. Hodges said that another investigator would help handle the problem. Ultimately, the supply would keep coming but Hodges said that important action could be taken to lower the demand, as well.

"We're at a crossroads," she said.

Supervisor Chris Tague of Schoharie said he was "impressed by the staff" of SCCASA. He asked what the Board could do to help. The Board members agreed to send a letter to the state requesting more funding for the agency.
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