BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

July is Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month. This observance is meant to bring awareness to the unique challenges that racial, ethnic, and sexual marginalized communities face regarding mental illness in the United States.

Studies show that these underserved communities display higher levels of anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other mental health disorders.  Society’s deep-rooted prejudice towards these groups is a major cause of feelings of rejection, estrangement, and harassment. Barriers to care include equitable access to care, cultural stigma, and lower quality care all can also play a part in affecting the experiences of underserved communities in the US. 

What’s the connection with gambling? 

Mental Health and gambling go hand-in-hand. Gambling can cause anxiety, depression, stress, and low self-esteem.

Just like with mental health, there is a stigma when it comes to gambling. People who are experiencing problems due to their gambling often have a large amount of shame as well as fear about the amount of debt they have. It can be difficult to reach out for help as they often feel alone and isolated. 

The shame and stigma associated with gambling problems can be further compounded within BIPOC communities. This can be because of a distrust of the medical system, or lack of services for those who are undocumented. In addition, treatment options can be limited for those in underserved communities as service availability may not be equitable, culturally specific or in a client’s native language.

Just like with mental health services, these communities are underserved when it comes to problem gambling support. It is important to continue to have these conversations and advocate for resources for those who are part of these populations. Reach out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center to identify what resources are currently available, what is missing, and to work in collaboration so that we can better serve our communities. 

If you or someone you love is exhibiting warning signs such as being absent from friend/family events because of gambling; feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling; low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with gambling; or lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling, it may be time to reach out to the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.

For more information or to get help call (716) 833-4274 or email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org

ACASA holds 2022 Virtual AHSSUM Camp

The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. (ACASA) held the 30th AHSSUM Camp from July 11th-July 14th.  For the second year in a row, Camp was held virtually on Zoom.  Each day for two hours, campers from Allegany County participated in guest speaker presentations and crafts.   AHSSUM – “A Happenin’ Safe Summer for U and Me” is a no-cost camp promoting positive alternatives for Allegany County youth ages 8 to 12 years old.  Parents registered their children on-line and supplies were delivered to the participants in-person prior to the start of camp week.

This year’s theme was “Geocaching”.  Day one’s theme was “Finding Your Way to Outdoor Adventures”, presented by Forest Ranger Justin Thaine.  Campers received their own compass as part of their supplies and viewed a pre-recorded video of DEC Officer Thaine in Plum Bottom State Forest explaining how to use a compass.  Following the video, Scout Master Peter Roeske and Eagle Scout son Will Roeske spoke further on the subject and answered questions posed by the campers.  Craft time consisted of using graph paper to map out one’s bedroom and coloring a map of New York and facts specific to our State. Day two was “Geocaching 101” and Belfast teacher Bruce Harrington spoke to campers about geocaching’s purpose, benefits, rules, history, and his experience.  Day two craft consisted of assembling and painting a wooden puzzle of a flamingo, owl, or peacock.  The theme for day three was “Back to the Future”, at which point time capsules were discussed and ACASA staff took turns highlighting specifics about the year they were born.  The craft for this day was assembly and painting of a wooden bird house.  Day four was “Get Outside and Experience Nature”.  Campers viewed a pre-recorded video of Genesee Valley Principal Brian Edmister, co-owner of Healing Waters, who encouraged them to enjoy the outdoors this summer.  Other related videos regarding kayaking were viewed and discussed.  Campers, on day four, had the option of making a milk box carton boat or an egg carton boat.  Most campers made both kinds.  Bingo was played on the final day and winners received art supplies or Legos as their prize. 

Throughout the week, campers were given an opportunity to find historical landmarks in Allegany County and geocache bags in eight different geocache locations.  Campers who posted photos of themselves with their daily crafts on the AHSSUM Camp Facebook page, or emailed photos to ACASA staff, were entered into a drawing to win a Healing Waters kayak trip for a family of five on the final day of AHSSUM.

The AHSSUM Camp program works with Allegany County school systems and other human service agencies to offer camp to youth within the county.  ACASA would like to acknowledge and thank the guest speakers, Wellsville Burger King, Wellsville McDonald’s, Saputo Dairy, and Upstate Dairy for various donations, and the sponsors of this camp: The Dr. Lyle F. Renodin Foundation – “Affiliated with the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY”, Allegany County Youth Bureau, and ACASA. 

For more information on attending or sponsoring AHSSUM Camp next year, please contact the ACASA Prevention Department at 585-593-1920, ext. 719.

Local Youth Mobilize Against Big Tobacco in Albany

Youth Raised Awareness of Flavored Tobacco Products, Participated in Altria Shareholders’ Meeting

First row, far left Ritney Castine from Center for Black Health and Equity, middle teens from Reality Check of NY and Dover Youth 2 Youth of New Hampshire, far right retired Director of NYS Tobacco Control Harlan Juster.

On May 19, five teen leaders from Tobacco-Free Chautauqua, Cattraugus, Allegany Counties (TFCCA) in joined other youth from around New York State, as well as Delaware, to call on Big Tobacco to voluntarily remove all flavors, in all their products, for all people. The live rally in West Capitol Park in Albany, NY, took place as Altria Group (Philip Morris USA) was holding their annual shareholders’ meeting, and was livestreamed to young people across the country who participated virtually. The united effort highlighted the tobacco industry’s use of flavored tobacco (including menthol) to target specific populations and drive initiation of and dependence of products harmful to their health.

Speakers at the youth-led press event included Ritney Castine, a health advocate and leader with the Center for Black Health and Equity and Harlan Juster, PhD, retired Director of Tobacco Control for the New York State Department of Health. Youth leaders Louisa Pelletier of Dover Youth to Youth and Kristina Donders of New York State Reality Check also spoke.

“While the tobacco industry constantly denies that they target youth with their marketing, you can’t argue with the facts,” said Kristina Donders, NYS Reality Check champion. “The fact is that 85% of e-cigarette users use flavored products.”

”The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced proposed rules that would ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars,” said Harlan Juster, PhD, retired Director of Tobacco Control for the New York State Department of Health. “But I believe that state and local communities must pursue banning the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars; in fact, they should ban all flavors, in all products, for all people and not wait for the FDA to act.”

”We know that 40,000 African Americans die each year due to tobacco-related illnesses and that the overwhelming majority of Black Americans who smoke cigarettes use menthol products,” said Ritney Castine of the Center for Black Health and Equity. “The time is now for New York to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and save lives.”

In preparation for Thursday’s in-person demonstration, youth spent Wednesday doing team-building exercises, planning the rally, learning about tobacco control policies, and how they can stand up, speak out and make a difference in the fight against big tobacco. Trainers were from Corporate AccountabilityCounter ToolsDover Youth 2 Youth, and the Hawaii Youth Council.

The press rally was part of a bigger effort, the third annual Mobilize Against Tobacco Lies (MATL 2022). Teens from Dover Youth 2 Youth in New Hampshire, the Kick Butts Generation in Delaware and Reality Check in New York were in-person in Albany, while youth leaders from Texas, Arkansas and Hawaii participated virtually.

Some youth took their demands right to the top – the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altria Group, Billy Gifford. Teens from Dover Youth 2 YouthNew York State Reality CheckTexas Say WhatHawaii Youth Council and Project Prevent in Arkansas were made a designee for a shareholder to address corporate tobacco executives and ask questions during the virtual shareholders’ meeting while others spoke out on social media.

For more information on Mobilize Against Tobacco Lies follow them on Facebook, @mobilizeagainsttobaccolies on Instagram, @Tobacco_LIES on Twitter, or check out their website.

Double Trouble: Substance Use and Mental Health

May 8 through the 14 is National Prevention Week. Wednesday, May 11’s theme is Preventing Suicide: Everyone Plays a Role. Mental health and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable, and many people do recover. Mental disorders involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior. These disorders can affect how we relate to others and make choices. Reaching a level that can be formally diagnosed often depends on a reduction in a person’s ability to function as a result of the disorder (SAMHSA).

For example:

  • Serious mental illness is defined by someone over 18 having (within the past year) a diagnosable mental, behavior, or emotional disorder that causes serious functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • For people under the age of 18, the term “Serious Emotional Disturbance” refers to a diagnosable mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder in the past year, which resulted in functional impairment that substantially interferes with or limits the child’s role or functioning in family, school, or community activities.
  • Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.

The abuse of alcohol or drugs is second to depression as the most frequent risk factor for suicidal behavior. The risks increase if substance use disorder (SUD) co-occurs with depression (major depressive disorder) or other mental health disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and some personality disorders. Those who experience depression, or these other disorders often turn to drugs or alcohol as coping measures which can sometimes evolve into SUD.

Alcohol and some drugs can lead to suicidality through loss of inhibition, impulsivity, and impaired judgement. SUD can also lead to changes in the brain that result in depression over time and can be disruptive to relationships—causing isolation and a loss of social connection. Furthermore, they can be a means to ease the distress associated with carrying out the act of suicide.

Risk Factors for Suicide

Risk factors are factors that can increase the possibility of someone making the decision of taking their own life. There are several risk factors that can lead to suicide. These risk factors include:

  • Substance use disorder that coincide with other disorder such as: Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Anxiety Disorder, and Some Personality Disorders.
  • Substance Use Disorder.
  • Stressful life events.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Living alone.
  • Lack of social support.
  • History of childhood abuse.
  • High aggression/impulsivity.
  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • History of suicidal behavior.

Protective Factors for Suicide

There are some individual characteristics and things we can do in communities that may help protect people from suicidal thoughts and behavior. There is not as much research about these protective factors as there is about risk factors but identifying and understanding them is especially important. These protective factors include:

  • Identifying reasons for living.
  • Being clean and sober.
  • Coping and problem-solving skills.
  • Connections to friends, family, and community support.
  • Limited access to lethal means.
  • Availability of physical and mental health care.
  • Having a trusting relationship with counsellors, physicians, and other service providers.
  • Employment.
  • Religious attendance/ and or internalized spiritual teachings against suicide.
  • Attendance to SUD support groups.
  • Optimistic perspective on life.

Demographics – Special Populations

Adolescents

A key risk factor that often underlies suicidal and substance use behaviors is poor impulse control. Adolescent substance use may increase the risk for suicidal behavior due to both acute and long-term effects. Stressful life events, both traumatic and interpersonal, are shown to contribute to suicide risk in adolescents. Additionally, nearly 52% of NYS students in grades 7-12 reported their parents had never talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking. If you know your child is using alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, you have good reason to be concerned. You may feel helpless, fearful and even ashamed, but you CAN do something. Contact the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse for help at 585-593-6738 or call HOPENY at 1-877-846-7369.

Sex and Gender Differences

Men are more likely than women to use almost all types of illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to result in emergency department visits or overdose deaths for men than for women. “Illicit” refers to use of illegal drugs, including marijuana (according to federal law) and misuse of prescription drugs. For most age groups, men have higher rates of use or dependence on illicit drugs and alcohol than do women. However, women are just as likely as men to develop a substance use disorder. In addition, women may be more susceptible to craving and relapse, which are key phases of the addiction cycle.

Middle Aged Males

Middle-age and older men that are dependent on alcohol and have mood disorders are at an elevated risk of suicide. Instead of talking about stress or trying to seek help for their depression men will often mask their stress and deal with their depression through harmful behaviors and actions. Depression is a common risk factor that might turn into other dangerous behaviors such as, denial of illness, and reliance of self-medicating strategies.

65 and older

While illicit drug use typically declines after young adulthood, nearly 1 million adults aged 65 and older live with a substance use disorder (SUD), as reported in 2018 data. Physical risk factors for substance use disorders in older adults can include chronic pain; physical disabilities or reduced mobility; transitions in living or care situations; loss of loved ones; forced retirement or change in income; poor health status; chronic illness; and taking a lot of medicines and supplements. Psychiatric risk factors include avoidance coping style; history of substance use disorders; previous or current mental illness; and feeling socially isolated.

How YOU can support Mental Health for All:

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and substance misuse can affect anyone. Whether for a brief period of time or a chronic problem, While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health.

To ensure mental health for all and prevent suicide, we need your help to reduce stigma, build awareness, and support those at-risk for suicide. You have the strength and power to reach out and save a life. Knowledge, awareness, advocacy, and empathy are the tools you may already have.

Recovery is possible. There is not a criteria that you check off and then all of a sudden you are considered “recovered”. Recovery looks different for everyone, and progress is measured differently. Recovery is a winding road, with twists and turns and possible pitfalls here and there – and that is okay. Be kind to yourself and to others, accept and learn from your mistakes or lapses. Celebrate progress, whether it is yours or a loved ones.

Together We Can Prevent Suicide…Prevention Works!

WHAT TO DO

  • If your life or someone you know is in imminent danger, CALL 911
  • Offer help and support; listen
  • Assess the environment for your safety and theirs – Remove any objects that may be used for harm
  • Stay with the person until assistance arrives
  • For additional help call:
    • Allegany County Crisis Hotline at 1-888-448-3367.
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (5233).
    • Text the word “hello” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

WANT TO DO MORE?

Join the Allegany County Suicide Prevention Coalition at any of our upcoming workshops; including SafeTalk, Talk Saves Lives, ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), and Youth Mental Health First Aid, or share your time and support as a member of the Coalition.

Are you a survivor of suicide loss? We can help connect you to local support groups.

To learn more, like us on Facebook at Allegany County Suicide Prevention Coalition or call Jose Soto at 585-610-9765.

Kicking Off National Prevention Week 2022

The week of May 8th marks National Prevention Week, a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) supported annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.  This is an opportunity to join with other individuals, organizations, and coalitions in the community to promote prevention efforts, educate others about behavioral health issues, and create and strengthen community partnerships.

National Prevention Week is held near the beginning of summer, due to the increased risk of substance use and abuse occurring at celebrations and recreational activities, including graduation parties, proms, weddings, and sporting events.  Schools are encouraged to initiate prevention-themed activities for the purpose of raising awareness in students of all ages.  According to SAMHSA, the percentages of marijuana, cigarette, and alcohol use among youth increase between spring and summer (April-July), and the timing of this week helps educate both youth and their families at this crucial time of year.

Beginning on Monday, each day of that week highlights a specific topic.  In previous years, a major emphasis has been on the prevention of using specific substances.  This year, some of the daily themes focus on prevention efforts. 

Since the first observance in 2012, community organizations across the country have hosted health fairs, block parties, educational assemblies, town hall meetings, memorial walks, social media campaigns, and outdoor events.  SAMHSA offers ideas and tips on how to host a community event around National Prevention Week.

SAMHSA’s website at www.samhsa.gov/prevention-week is a wealth of information that includes resources, collaborating organizations, materials, and a toolkit.  Let’s band together as a community and continue to set the example that prevention works by promoting a safe and healthy spring and summer with positive alternatives to alcohol and other drug use! 

National Prevention Week Toolkit.

Remember Prevention Works!

April is Stress Awareness Month

Stress Awareness Month in April reminds us to pay attention to our health. Experts have shown that stress can have a dramatic impact on us mentally and physically. A variety of factors can relate to stress, and we’re familiar with many of them – our jobs, our relationships, our finances. One that might not come to mind immediately is the negative impact of gambling. Problems related to gambling have a close link to stress and anxiety, both for the people gambling and their loved ones.

Over 600,000 New Yorkers have experienced a gambling problem in the past year. The effects can include sleep issues, strain on relationships with loved ones, financial problems and increased alcohol or drug use, all of which can cause stress. People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for other mental health problems. Two out of three individuals reported that their mental health suffered because of their gambling.

Not only do people start to be stressed after they have had problems because of gambling, but stress also itself can often lead to gambling. Some people experience distress over life events and circumstances and use gambling to distract or escape from the things that are bothering them. Unfortunately, though, the negative impact of gambling can compound an already-stressful situation and result in an unhealthy cycle.

Emotional and psychological distress is not exclusive to just the person gambling either – each of those individuals can affect up to 10 other people in their lives. A study found that nine out of 10 people impacted by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress. Between the people gambling and their close friends and family, nearly six million New Yorkers are affected by problem gambling and may experience mental health issues because of it.

Gambling is rarely a positive or effective method for coping with stress. April is a great month to explore healthy alternatives to cope with stressors, big or small. If you notice yourself or someone you care about starting to gamble or increase the amount of time or money spent on gambling activities, it might be time to explore why.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center is available for anyone exhibiting warning signs of a gambling problem, such as being absent from activities with friends or loved ones because of gambling; feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling; low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with gambling; or lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling. When people call (716) 833-4274 or email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org, they confidentially speak with a knowledgeable PGRC staff person who will listen to and connect them with the resources that best meet their needs. Whether someone is ready to get help or wants to know how they can help a loved one, call us today.

36th ALCOHOL AWARENESS MONTH

This April marks the 36th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) since 1987.  This year’s theme is “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction”.  Alcohol-Free Weekend has traditionally been observed the first weekend in April, which is April 1-3.  This is a time when parents and other adults are asked to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages for 72 hours to show our youth that alcohol isn’t necessary to have a good time.  If participants discover they can’t go without a drink during this period, they are urged to call the Allegany Council’s outpatient clinic at 585-593-6738 for signs and symptoms of a possible alcohol related disorder.

No other substance is more widely used and abused by America’s youth than alcohol, making alcoholism and alcohol-related problems the number one public health problem in the United States.

Many youth drink because of social pressure to “fit in” with their peers, while others may drink alone because they are bored or depressed.  This puts them at greater risk for developing alcohol-related problems.  Drinking is also associated with the leading causes of death among young people, including car crashes, murder, and suicide.  Even though teenagers know that people should not drink and drive, almost a third of teens will accept rides from someone who has been drinking.

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), those who regularly engage in underage drinking are at a higher risk of using other drugs, engaging in risky behavior, doing poorly in school, and having serious health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

Research has shown that one of the biggest protective factors in reducing the likelihood that a child will develop a substance abuse problem is strong parental disapproval of alcohol and other drug use.  Fostering healthy and responsible attitudes, talking openly and honestly, encouraging supportive relationships, and showing children that their opinions and decisions matter, are all ways to help prevent the use of alcohol and other drugs.

According to a New York State survey, over half the students in grades 7-12 reported that their parents had never talked to them about the dangers of underage drinking.  According to the 2021 Risk and Protective Factor Survey, administered to 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders in Allegany County, 85% of students do NOT use alcohol!  Let’s continue to help keep kids safe from alcohol and other drugs by starting the conversation.  For tips on how to do this, log onto www.Talk2Prevent.NY.gov.  For additional information and resources, visit ppaccentral.org

Let this be your call to action, and remember, PREVENTION WORKS!

12th Annual National Drug Facts Week

This March 21st marks the 12th National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, first launched in 2010 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  The purpose of this week is to counteract the myths that youth get from the Internet, television, movies, music, or friends, and replace those myths with scientific facts about drug abuse and addiction.  The more informed our youth are about substances and the negative impact those substances can have on their lives, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors.  “Shatter the Myths” is a free NIDA publication that parents can use to talk to their kids about substance abuse, and can be found for download at www.drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov.  NIDA’s “Family Checkup” is a wealth of information relevant to parenting skills that help prevent the initiation and progression of youth drug use.  Topics include clear communication about relationship issues, encouraging positive behaviors on a daily basis, negotiating emotional parent/teen conflicts and working toward a solution, setting limits when behavior ranges from defiant or disrespectful to more serious problem behavior, monitoring teens to assure that they are not spending too much time unsupervised, and knowing your child’s friends.  Visit www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup to access these tips and to view video clips that display positive and negative examples of the skills, as well as additional videos to help parents practice positive parenting skills. 

According to the local Allegany County data from the 2021 Risk and Protective Factor Survey, 12th graders reported the following related to 30-day substance abuse.  74.1% had NOT used alcohol; 95.9% had NOT used traditional cigarettes; 72.4% had NOT used e-cigarettes; and 84.1% had NOT used marijuana.  We can all do our part by supporting our youth, getting the facts, and reminding them that NOT all youth are using substances, which is a popular myth among this population. 

Remember, Prevention Works!

Other Resources:

8 Ways to Connect with Children, Teens, and Young Adults

Partners for Prevention in Allegany County

Talk 2 Prevent Parent Toolkit

From Niagara Falls and the Seneca One Building to the Mario Cuomo Bridge: NY Shines the Light on Problem Gambling

Niagara Falls and the Seneca One Building in downtown Buffalo are among several NYS landmarks joining the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) to recognize March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM). The two local landmarks will be lit up yellow on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Other sites honoring PGAM are the five towers in the City of Rochester, Yates Co. Government Building, Syracuse City Hall, National Grid Building, Barclay Damon Building, SUNY System Administration Building, Mid-Hudson Bridge, and the Mario Cuomo (Tappan Zee) Bridge.

The Western New York Problem Gambling Resource Center, a program of the NY Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG), is calling on everyone in WNY to shine the light on problem gambling, an issue that impacts millions of American adults. With the rapid expansion of gambling and the record-breaking introduction of mobile sports betting, it is imperative that all our communities collaborate to raise awareness of problem gambling, prevent any additional problems related to gambling, and get those in need to adequate, local support services.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, 2 million U.S. adults (1%) are estimated to meet criteria for severe gambling problems in a given year. Another 4-6 million (2-3%) would be considered to have mild or moderate gambling problems; that is, they meet one of more of the criteria and are experiencing problems due to their gambling behavior.

The effects of problem gambling are not isolated to the individual gambling. It’s been estimated that 8-10 additional people can be negatively affected by one person’s gambling behaviors (Petry et al, 2005). These people include family members, friends, neighbors and even coworkers. If we account for individuals experiencing gambling problems and others who are affected, the estimate of those affected by problem gambling is between 64 and 80 million people.

Not only are we shining the light on the issue of problem gambling, we also want that light to be a beacon for anyone who might be negatively affected by a gambling problem – there is hope and help! If you or someone you know is experiencing things like distress, financial problems, or relationship conflicts because of gambling, the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center provides local, confidential support. Call (716) 833-4274 email WesternPGRC@nyproblemgambling.org or visit our website NYProblemGamblingHELP.org. We’re here to help.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is a program of the New York Council on Problem Gambling dedicated to addressing the issue of problem gambling within New York State. The vision of the PGRC is the positive transformation of lives harmed by problem gambling. The PGRC focuses efforts on increasing public awareness of problem gambling; connecting clients with treatment, recovery and support services; and promoting healthy lifestyles which foster freedom from problem gambling. Visit www.NYProblemGamblingHELP.org to learn more about the PGRC network.  The New York Council on Problem Gambling (NYCPG) is a not-for-profit independent corporation dedicated to increasing public awareness about problem and compulsive gambling and advocating for support services and treatment for persons adversely affected by problem gambling. NYCPG maintains a neutral stance on gambling and is governed by a Board of Directors. Find out more at NYProblemGambling.org.

Fillmore’s Reality Check Participates in Through with Chew Week

ACASA’s Ann Weaver and Fillmore’s Reality Check member Selena Leonard.

While youth vaping may be the topic on everyone’s lips, many high school students and adults use chew and other forms of smokeless tobacco.

During Through With Chew Week, February 20-26, members of Reality Check groups in Fillmore raised awareness in their community, on the dangers of chewing tobacco and other smokeless tobacco products.

Students created a display in the form of a mouth, with teeth displaying facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and additional health studies on potential health problems.

Smokeless tobacco:

· Can lead to nicotine addiction.

· Can cause cancer of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas.

· Is associated with diseases of the mouth.

· May increase the risk for death from heart disease and stroke.

“Many people think that smokeless tobacco is less dangerous or harmless compared to smoking cigarettes, and that just isn’t true” states Reality Check Coordinator Jon Chaffee. In addition, a study of internal tobacco industry documents found that smokeless tobacco product manufacturers added flavors to their products to attract new users, especially young men.

Allegany County residents who want to quit can contact ACASA’s Ann Weaver at (585) 593-1920 for free local cessation or visit alleganycouncil.org. Also, the New York State Smokers’ Quitline provides FREE support to those thinking about quitting smokeless tobacco, including patches, gum or lozenges, as well as support from a Quit Coach. Call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) or visit www.nysmokefree.com to explore all the free services available to New Yorkers

Reality Check wants to give a special “Thanks” to Fillmore Shop’n Save and owner Randy Ellis for allowing them to decorate the front windows and help them educate the community.