Press Release - Senator Young and the Seneca Nation of the Indians Join Together to Fight Heroin and Opioid Addiction

 

SENATOR CATHY YOUNG AND THE SENECA NATION OF INDIANS JOIN TOGETHER TO FIGHT
                        HEROIN AND OPIOID ADDICTION
        Forum in Irving Tackles Addiction Treatment and Prevention

        IRVING - Make no mistake - the heroin and opioid epidemic has hit
Western New York. Families across the state and nation have been devastated
by the deadly effects of addiction, and communities in Chautauqua County,
Cattaraugus County, the Seneca territories, and the entire surrounding
region have not been exempt from the negative impact.

        Recognizing the gravity of the epidemic and the reality of widespread
heroin and opioid abuse, today, Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr.
and Tribal Councillors Jeffrey Gill (Cattaraugus), Richard Nephew
(Cattaraugus), Darlene Miller (Allegany), and Arlene Bova (Allegany) join
New York State Senators Catharine Young (R,C,I - Olean), Phil Boyle (R,C,I
- Suffolk County), Patrick Gallivan (R,C,I - Elma), and George Maziarz (R,C
- Newfane) in co-hosting an historic joint forum to address the heroin and
opioid addiction epidemic in our communities. Chautauqua County Executive
Vince Horrigan will also join the panel of elected representatives in
attendance.

        At the joint forum, the impact of this epidemic is being told not
just through statistics, which are shocking enough themselves, but also
through the harrowing testimonies and stories of recovering addicts and
their families, for whom heroin and opioid addiction is a daily personal
struggle.

        “Today’s forum has brought together concerned and affected citizens
from across the region to deal with this epidemic. It also marks the first
time that state and tribal governments have joined forces and held an
official joint effort,” said Senator Young. “Because the scourge of heroin
abuse in our communities has grown to such overwhelming levels, we
recognized that we need to work together on finding effective solutions.
Families are being destroyed at an alarming rate and the personal
testimonies we are hearing today reveal in heart-wrenching detail the
real-world impact of heroin and opioid abuse.”

        Senator Phil Boyle, who chairs the New York State Senate’s Joint Task
Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, said, “The current heroin and opioid
epidemic has touched untold lives and brought immeasurable suffering to New
Yorkers. The efforts of our Heroin Task Force are yielding historic results
in the fight to combat this addiction crisis in our state and will save
countless lives.”

        Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder Sr. stated, “This is an
historic event. The New York State Senate and Seneca Nation leadership
understand that the drug issue knows no boundaries, and we welcome the
State’s task force to our Territory to work together towards a common
goal.”

        Today, at the Cattaraugus Community Center in Irving, New York,
elected officials are gathering with law enforcement; treatment providers;
experts in the fields of education, mental health, and substance abuse; and
other affected individuals who have been directly influenced by heroin and
opioid abuse. Forum participants will address the many aspects of the
heroin and opioid epidemic, including addiction treatment and prevention,
drug-related criminal activity, and other negative social impacts in order
to determine meaningful solutions to help those in need.

        The deadly effects of heroin and the extent of the problem in recent
years has been felt by individuals throughout our society, from law
enforcement to emergency medical treatment providers, and from education
professionals to addiction recovery providers, as well as individual
citizens from across the socioeconomic spectrum.

        At the national level, recent figures from the National Survey on
Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) detailed the reported abuse of heroin between
2007 and 2012, finding that the number of heroin addicts nearly doubled
nationwide over this short time. About 669,000 Americans were reportedly
using heroin in 2012. The number of first-time users was particularly
alarming, increasing from 90,000 in 2006 to 156,000 in 2012.

        Ours is one of the most severely affected states, with New York
accounting for about 20 percent of the heroin seized by the federal Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) every year. The rate of these seizures in
New York has grown by 67 percent over the last five years alone.

        Also, as reported by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, opioid and
heroin overdoses in New York killed twice as many people in 2011 as in
2004. The number of people in New York who died as a result of opioid and
heroin overdoses climbed to more than 2,000 in 2011.

        These increases in abuse, drug seizures, and overdoses statewide is
especially evidenced in New York’s rural counties, where drug arrests have
increased significantly over the last ten years, including in Chautauqua
and Cattaraugus Counties.

        According to figures from the New York State Division of Criminal
Justice Services (DCJS) examining the last ten years, in 2013 there were
209 felony and misdemeanor drug arrests in Cattaraugus County, more than in
any of the previous nine years. In the years prior, between 2004 and 2012,
there was an annual average of 135 drug arrests per year in the county.

        As reported by the Post-Journal, Chautauqua County also experienced
an increase in felony and misdemeanor drug arrests last year. At 399, drug
arrests were up from an average of 359 over the previous nine years. In
Jamestown, the number of drug arrests relating specifically to heroin
increased dramatically, from just nine in 2011 to 27 in 2013.

        Coinciding with this increased activity in the area of law
enforcement, emergency medical service personnel and first responders have
also seen the impact of increased abuse. In the period between August 2012
and March 2014, the Olean Times Herald reported that ambulance crews from
the Olean Fire Department responded to 15 reported critical overdoses as a
result of opiate abuse. Of these 15 overdoses, 11 were reportedly caused by
heroin. In 2013, Jamestown’s Mental Health Association found that heroin
was linked to more deaths than any other drug.

        Avi Israel, President and Founder of Save the Michaels of the World,
Inc. lost his son to prescription painkiller addiction. He now works to
raise awareness of prescription drug addiction. “I am very grateful to
Senator Young, Senator Boyle, and the members of the task force for trying
to find solutions to this epidemic. Our family has paid the ultimate price,
the loss of our son Michael. This forum and others like it can help save
many Michaels from losing their lives,” he said.

        Laura Elliott-Engel, Executive Director of the Council on Addiction
Recovery Services, Inc. (CAReS) in Olean, New York, said, “There are 23
million Americans in recovery. While a chronic disease that impacts many
families with loved ones, there is effective treatment and pathways to
recovery. The Senate’s attention to the significant increase in opioid
experimentation and usage is a powerful statement that there are solutions
that can be imagined and incorporated into an effective public response
through increased funding for prevention services in our school systems,
investment in community recovery support services, and strengthening our
treatment services to respond to the significant risk and availability of
opioids.”

        Silver Creek Central Schools Superintendent Dan Ljiljanich gave his
perspective on the role of schools in combating the crisis. “One of our top
priorities as a school community is providing positive outlets for our
students. Thus, we will continue to focus our energy on increasing
co-curricular participation in student clubs, music programs, and athletic
activities. Young people will always find something to occupy their time,
and it is our responsibility to provide constructive opportunities and
strongly encourage participation in activities that will steer them away
from drugs,” he said.

        Combating this epidemic has also required increased attention and
resources for law enforcement. Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb
said, “As I enter my second term as Sheriff in Cattaraugus County, I have
seen firsthand in five years the drastic increase in heroin and opioid
abuse in both our criminal investigations and in our incarcerated inmates.”

        Senator Young said, “I look forward to today’s testimonies and the
tremendously important discussions we are having. I thank everyone who has
come out today and know that by working together in a cooperative way, we
can enact meaningful solutions that will help prevent many families and
individuals from having to experience the terrible impact of addiction.”

        There will be a press briefing with local officials at 12:30 PM,
followed by the forum at 1:00 PM.

        The forum will include the following panel participants:

Welcome and Elected Panel (1:00):
Barry Snyder Sr. ? President, Seneca Nation of Indians
Catharine M. Young ? Senator, 57th District
Phil Boyle ? Senator, 4th District
Patrick Gallivan ? Senator, 59th District
George Maziarz ? Senator, 62nd District
Jeffrey Gill ? Tribal Councillor, Cattaraugus
Richard Nephew ? Tribal Councillor, Cattaraugus
Darlene Miller ? Tribal Councillor, Allegany
Arlene Bova ? Tribal Councillor, Allegany
Vince Horrigan ? County Executive, Chautauqua

Health, Treatment, and Prevention Panel (1:30):
Amanda Fero ? Recovering Heroin Addict and Support Group Leader
Avi Israel ? President, Save the Michaels of the World, Inc.
Sandra Hill  ? Seneca Nation of Indians Member, Advocate for Victims of
Drug Abuse and Their Families
Laura Elliott-Engel ? Executive Director, Council on Addiction Recovery
Services, Inc. (CAReS)
Jodie Altman ? Campus Director, Renaissance Addiction Services, Inc.
Dr. Lesley Farrell ? Commissioner, Seneca Nation Social Services
Dr. Henri Lamothe ? Emergency Department Medical Director, Bradford
Regional Medical Center
Dr. Kenneth Leonard ? Director, University at Buffalo Research Institute on
Addictions
Wendy Luce ? Division Director of Patient Care, Lake Shore Hospital
Patricia Munson ? Executive Director, Chautauqua Alcoholism and Substance
Abuse Council
Patricia Brisley ? Prevention Specialist, Seneca Nation Health System
Behavioral Health Unit
Dr. Judith Feld ? Associate Medical Director, Behavioral Health,
Independent Health

School Panel (2:15):
Detective Jennifer Alessi ? School Resource Officer, Gowanda Central
Schools, Gowanda Police Department
Charles Rinaldi ? Superintendent, Gowanda Central Schools
Robert Breidenstein ? Superintendent, Salamanca City Schools
Timothy Pence ? School Resource Officer, Salamanca City Schools,
Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department
Daniel Ljiljanich ? Superintendent, Silver Creek Central Schools
Kevin Link ? School Resource Officer, Silver Creek Central Schools,
Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department
Daniel Pacos ? Assistant Superintendent, Lake Shore Central Schools
Douglas Tubinis ? School Resource Officer, Lake Shore Central Schools,
Evans Police Department
Mark Schultz ? Principal, Pioneer Central High School
Richard Rybicki ? Principal, Southwestern Middle School
Students from Southwestern Central Schools
Students from Silver Creek Central Schools
Students from Lake Shore Central Schools

Law Enforcement Panel (3:00):
Timothy Lynch ? Assistant U.S. Attorney, Western District of New York
Michelle Spahn ? Resident Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Agency, Buffalo
Resident Office
Brian Mohr ? Erie County Sheriff’s Department, Seneca Nation of Indians
Liaison
Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb ? Sheriff, Cattaraugus County
Sheriff Joseph Gerace ? Sheriff, Chautauqua County
Gerald Zimmerman ? Director, Cattaraugus County Probation Department