This September marks the 32nd National Recovery Month, an observance held every September to educate Americans that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.
Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in recovery, just as society celebrates health improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. A major difference, however, is that the successes of the millions of Americans whose lives have been transformed through recovery often go unnoticed by the general population. The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.
Each year, Recovery Month selects a new focus and theme to spread the message and share the successes of treatment and recovery. This year’s theme, “Recovery is For Everyone: Every Person, Every Family, Every Community,” is meant to remind people in recovery and those who support them that no one is alone in the journey through recovery. The observance will work to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members who make recovery in all its forms possible.
Previously, Recovery Month was sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In June of 2020, SAMHSA announced its decision to retire its annual convening of Recovery Month stakeholders, the development of future themes and assets, and the management of the events calendar. For more information visit Recovery Month, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. NAADAC now “carries the torch” for Recovery Month.
Tomorrow, August 31 marks the 21st International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), started in Melbourne, Australia, in 2001. Sally Finn, a manager of the Salvation Army syringe program, saw the sorrow that families experienced when they lost their loved ones to a drug overdose. When she realized that the families were unable to express their grief due to the stigma of drug use, Sally arranged an event that would allow families to commemorate the memories of their departed loved ones. Six thousand ribbons were distributed that day, and the awareness day has been supported every year since then.
Purchase or create purple wristbands, pins, shirts, or other items to be worn on August 31.Research state and federal legislation that addresses opioid overdose prevention, and write to your representative.
Support IOAD efforts by donating to end the opioid crisis by making a gift in honor of a loved one.
Can you get infected with Covid-19 from the vaccine?
No, a person cannot get infected with COVID-19 from the vaccine as it does not contain the live virus. Instead, it teaches our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus. Sometimes this process can cause mild fever, headache or tiredness, pain and swelling at the injection site. This Indicates the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
Are COVID-19 vaccine side effects worse than being infected with coronavirus?
Although COVID-19 vaccine side effects can be uncomfortable, Covid-19 itself can be life threatening, cause more extreme and long-lasting symptoms, and can plague a person throughout their life. Remember, you should get the 2nd shot even if you get side effects from the 1st shot.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine unsafe because it was developed too quickly?
Although Covid-19 vaccines were developed in record time, no compromises were made. The vaccines have undergone the same rigorous Food and Drug Administration process as other vaccines and are distributed under Emergency Use Authorizations. Both pre-clinical and clinical data show that the vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 and reducing the risk of spreading the virus.
Can COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility?
There is no scientific evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine will cause infertility. Remember, any information you find online should be verified.
Is COVID-19 the government’s way of controlling citizen’s lives, should Allegany County be worried?
The federal, state, and local government leaders are working hard to protect our communities from the devastating impact of COVID-19. The government is not using the spread of the coronavirus to curb personal freedoms.
Where can someone go if they need a Covid-19 test for a trip, camp, or back to school or if they have symptoms?
If you need a COVID-19 test there are pharmacies and Urgent Care Facilities in Western New York offering a rapid or PCR test. You should call the Allegany County Department of Health (ACDOH) at 585-269-9250 for assistance in finding the type of COVID-19 test you need and the closet location to you.
What types of COVID-19 vaccine are available in Allegany County and where can residents get their vaccine?
You can also go to www.vaccine.gov and narrow down your search by the type of vaccine and zip code. It is important to call ahead to make sure the vaccine is on hand. If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines or need assistance registering for an appointment, call the ACDOH at 585-268-9250.
Happy Pride Month! June is established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals have had on the world. LGBTQIA+ groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings. It’s also important to recognize that the LGBTQIA+ community has been impacted by various mental health issues, including problem gambling. Problem gambling is anytime someone’s life is negatively impacted by their gambling habits. This could be financial struggles, relationship or partner issues, conflicts with work and school, and even translating to criminal behavior.
Unfortunately, there is limited research on the prevalence of gambling addiction among the LGBTQIA+ community. However, the information that is available does suggest that there is a correlation between problem gambling and those who identify as gay, bisexual, and transgender. A 2006 U.S. study reports that 21% of 105 men seeking treatment for problem gambling identified as gay or bisexual. That percentage is 7x higher than the (reported) rate of gay and bisexual men in the general population (21% as opposed to 3%) raising the possibility that gay/bi men might be at increased risk for problem gambling (Grant, JE, and Potenza, MN, 2006). Additionally, a 2015 Australian study reports that 20.2% of 69 LGBT participants met DSM V criteria for gambling disorder. Pub/slot games (58%) and scratch offs (43%) were most common about LGBTI populations. The amount spent ranged from $1 – $3K per month. Reasons were “because it is fun” and “because I like the feeling.”
The most important takeaway from these limited studies is that it’s important to have a comprehensive screening system in place for all individuals receiving treatment for problem gambling, especially screening specifically for LGBTQIA+ folks who are already in care or seeking treatment for mental health or chemical dependency needs. First and foremost, establishing a safe environment for clients should be a normalized step within all counseling and therapy-related practices. Secondly, help is available for problem gambling no matter how you identify. The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is excited to promote our clinicians who are experienced in treating LGBTQIA+ individuals, as well as have training in cultural humility. Below are some barrier-free options the Western PGRC offers our community:
In person or teletherapy counseling (individual or couples therapy)
Connection to Gambler’s Anonymous or Gam-Anon
Online family support group
Guidance through the NYS Casino Self-Exclusion Program
Online tools and resources, including self-assessment screening
Connection to statewide inpatient and outpatient treatment services
This May for Mental Health Awareness Month, we are working with Partners for Prevention and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to send the message that no one’s mental health is fully supported until everyone’s mental health is supported. We are encouraging everyone to get involved by taking one simple action to encourage their friends, family, and community to take care of their mental health. Everyone has different experiences with their own mental health, and their own preferred methods of care and support. It is important that we all remain open and ready to listen to others’ points of view and perspectives, especially during this challenging time.
Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. The past year forced many to accept tough situations that they had little to no control over. The pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined, causing a lot of us to struggle with our mental health as a result and challenging our resiliency. It is critical to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles that commonly prevent individuals from seeking help slow down their journey to recovery.
How YOU can support Mental Health for All:
Open up to someone close to you about something that you have been coping with
Identify 3 simple self-care activities that work for YOU, like meditating, journaling, or exercising.
Schedule a check-up to talk to a doctor about your mental health, as well as your physical health
Add crisis resource numbers to your phone and encourage a loved one to do the same.
For the People in Your Life
Let people in your life know you are a safe person to talk to about mental health
Actively listen and engage when someone comes to you for help
Connect people in your life who have shared interests, such as music, arts, sports and more!
For Your Community
Advocate for mental health policies that ensure that everyone in your community has access to:
mental health care.
suicide prevention training.
funding for local crisis resources.
Get involved with your local Suicide Prevention Coalition efforts, local American Foundation for Suicide Prevention chapter, or support outreach events.
Help transform your community into one that is smart about mental health, where everyone has support when they need it.
Bring mental health education, research or support programs to your school, workplace, or community center.
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. Below are even more resources to empower you to confidently tear down the stigma surrounding mental health and save someone’s life.
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:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-5233 (TALK).
Allegany County Crisis Hotline at 1-888-448-3367.
Text the word “hello” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
WANT TO LEARN 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 or call Jose Soto at 585-610-9765.
Thursday, May 13 theme is focused on preventing youth tobacco use, especially looking at e-cigarette use and vaping, which in the past two years there have been some big swings in policy change federally and at the state level. Beginning in 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed regulations to ban the sale of flavored pods excluding menthol and tobacco flavors. This ban affected products like JUUL, Vuse, and, Blu which can all be found in our local stores and really jump started the use of e-cigarettes among young people. There are various reasons for this; the two biggest were the product being easily concealable by young people and secondly, flavors that young people like. This ban on flavored pods, seemed like a good response; unfortunately, it was limited to only pod systems and the industry reacted by creating disposable e-cigarettes like Puff Bar and Hyde, which were a one-time use product that, once people were done vaping, would be discarded. In May 2021, New York banned all flavored e-juice in all vaping products excluding tobacco and non-flavored e-juice. This ban closed the loophole in the FDA regulation and should have an overall positive effect on limiting young people from vaping. Unfortunately, in our area young people still have access to flavored e-juice by going to stores in Pennsylvania and the Seneca Territory. Even though the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 21, some stores will not check identification or decide to risk punishment to sell to underage youth. Once young people know which stores will sell tobacco products to them, the word travels quickly.
It is important for adults in young people’s lives to talk to them about e-cigarettes and vaping and all substances. Adults can educate themselves on what to look for to help them identify different types of e-cigarettes and known risks to help with the conversation.
Most people have argued, ”Well if young people are vaping, at least they are not using traditional cigarettes”. Vaping has scientifically been shown to be less harmful for adults, NOT youth. Studies have shown that the earlier young people start using an addictive product it is harder for them to quit and primes the adolescent brain to develop addiction to substances. Also, young people who vape are more likely to transition to smoking traditional cigarettes as they get older. We also do not know the long-term health risks of vaping, like we do with traditional cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that smoking is still the #1 cause of preventable death, killing over 480,000 Americans each year, and another 16 million Americans live with a smoking related disease. After looking at these stats and knowing that young people who vape are more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes, vaping at a young age is an important issue.
In Allegany County, if you have a young person who is using tobacco products and would like to quit, contact the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.’s (ACASA) Ann Weaver for cessation services at (585) 593-1920, ext. 713. There are also online cessation resources below.
On March 31, 2021, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Marijuana and Regulation Tax Act (MRTA), which legalizes 21+ adult use of cannabis. According to the MRTA, adults can have three mature and three immature cannabis plants within their private residence, with a limit of six mature and six immature plants per private residence. In addition, adults can possess up to three ounces of dried cannabis and twenty-four ounces of cannabis concentrate outside their home, and possess up to five pounds of marijuana in their home. These plants and products must be kept in a secured place so they are not accessible to anyone under the age of twenty-one. Currently, home growth is not legal and will not be authorized until eighteen months after the opening of the first adult-use dispensaries. Certified medical cannabis patients over twenty-one and their caregivers may cultivate cannabis for personal use six months after the effective legislation date.
The MRTA allows towns, cities, and villages the opportunity to opt-out of allowing retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption licenses by passing a local law by December 31, 2021, or nine months after the effective date of this legislation, whichever is later.
According to information gathered by “Parents Opposed to Pot”, which is a 501c3 educational nonprofit based in northern Virginia, home grow dangers include the following:
Access to children increases and it is impossible to keep away from those under twenty-one.
Child and dog poisonings are occurring in the home, or at school when youth take the drug or edibles to school.
Property crimes, such as breaking and entering and personal injury/homicide crimes increase. Thieves consistently target home grows.
Nuisance to neighbors is a problem, such as odor, people coming and going at all hours, and drive-by shootings.
Squatter grows in rented units may make it more difficult to sell the home once growers leave.
Landlords will be saddled with huge utility bills and drywall damage, due to odor permeating the drywall, which requires expensive remediation/renovation.
Hash oil manufacturing can cause explosions and claimed the lives of a child in Colorado and one in California. (Amateurs who make highly concentrated THC at home attempt to undercut the regulated marijuana market.)
Home growers are potential drug dealers, as, in states where recreational marijuana is legal, the home can become a black market home-based drug dealing establishment.
Energy use is many times the normal household electricity consumption when growing indoors, due to the extra lighting required.
In April, 2021, a study in Alexandria, Virginia, found that secondhand marijuana smoke could be more health hazardous than secondhand cigarette smoke. The study compared emissions of fine particles, or particulate matter (PM 2.5) from tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke, and found that the PM 2.5 emission rate of pre-rolled marijuana joints was 3.5 times higher than the average PM 2.5 emission rate of Marlboro cigarettes. In addition, indoor smoking of marijuana produced much more secondhand smoke emissions than indoor cigarette smoking. This study follows previous research findings that marijuana users had higher levels of smoke-related toxins in their blood and urine than nonsmokers. These toxins are associated with cancer, anemia, and liver and mental health damage.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and co-founder of SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), and former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration, stated, “With the recent declaration that the use of marijuana in public areas will be allowed under the new legalization in New York State, this new research solidifies the need for further public health guardrails to be put in place, not only in New York, but also in other states where the public use of marijuana proliferates. The risks to health cannot be ignored.”
Tuesday, May 11th, is the day during “National Prevention Week” that focuses on preventing underage drinking. With the exception of last year, due to COVID19, Allegany Council’s Prevention Department has partnered with Wellsville Giant and Wellsville Central School SADD advisors and students to participate in “Sticker Shock” on this specific day. “Sticker Shock” is a public awareness campaign in which red and white stickers shaped like stop signs are placed on multi-packs of alcohol. The stickers remind people that it is illegal for any person 21 or older to purchase or provide alcohol to minors, and that breaking the law could include one year in jail or fines up to one thousand dollars.
Thanks to Wellsville Giant, Cuba Giant, Bolivar Shop-N-Save, Fillmore Shop-N-Save, and both Wellsville Walgreen locations for supporting the campaign throughout the year!
Last month was “Alcohol Awareness Month”. If you missed the blog post on PPAC Central from April 18, check it out for some interesting information on the teenage brain and how youth development is affected by alcohol use. In the meantime, read the following article for some information that may be new to you. Prevention occurs over the course of our life span, so, keep an open mind for the facts that follow.
According to an article written by Mercey Livingston on 7/25/20, Dr. Edo Paz, Medical Director at K Health, and Dr. Tom Moorcroft, founder of Origins of Health, discuss the above topic for educational and informational purposes only. Three relevant areas include the immune system, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and sleep.
The immune system, which keeps us healthy and protects us from illness, cannot function at maximum capacity if it is weakened by a substance such as alcohol. The result is higher susceptibility to contracting any contagious illness, including COVID-19. In addition, if alcohol is present in a person’s system when he/she comes into contact with a virus, the body’s chances of fighting it off are decreased. This is due to the fact that it is easier for the pathogen (virus) to “take hold” and lead to an infection.
Alcohol also alters gut bacteria, which also affects the immune system. Short and long term alcohol use can impair immune function because it leads to changes in microbiome, which are the organisms in the intestines that aid in normal gut function. It can also lead to cell damage of the gut wall that can lead to leakage of microbes in the bloodstream, triggering inflammation.
ARDS can occur with COVID-19 and happens when fluid fills the lungs and prevents the body from getting enough oxygen. This can result in death or severe lung damage, and heavy drinking and alcohol use can increase the risk for this on its own. Healthy lungs are linked to a healthy immune system, and long term alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of developing ARDS, as the body is less able to ward off infection.
The final area discussed in the article is related to sleep, crucial for overall health and especially the immune system. Skimping on sleep can lower proteins in the body that fight inflammation and infection, making a person more susceptible to illness. For information on how GABA and melatonin (sleep hormones) are affected, visit the complete article.
In summary, the suggestion in the article is to avoid alcohol in order to keep the immune system functioning at its best. If a person twenty-one or older does drink socially, consuming less is better.
For those who suffer from immunosuppression, are considered immunocompromised, and/or have a pre-existing medical condition, alcohol should be completely avoided.
Monday, May 10 kicks off Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2021 National Prevention Week. Each day of National Prevention Week has a main topic, which Monday is Preventing Prescription Drug and Opioid Misuse.
The National Institute on Health says teenagers and young adults have a common misperception that medications prescribed by physicians are safe, even when used illicitly. However, a broad range of motivations have been associated with the abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers. Some teenagers seek to self-medicate (e.g., pain, anxiety, insomnia) by abusing their own or others’ prescriptions. 1/3 of teens believe that it is okay to use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them for injury, illness, or physical pain. Other teens use prescription drugs to enhance performance or abuse steroids to shape their bodies. Some teens take prescription drugs to get high or experiment, often combining them with alcohol. 40% of teens who have abused, or misused prescription drugs obtained them from their parents medicine cabinet, 2/3’s who misused pain relievers in the past year got them from a family member.
The Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. (ACASA) and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County (PPAC) promote the message “Safe Use, Safe Storage, Safe Disposal.”
Safe Use is following the instructions of the medication and do not take any medication that has not been prescribed to you. Safe Use also means not sharing medications that are prescribed to you by a doctor with another person. Taking medications that are not prescribed to you personally, can have a bad interaction with other medications that you take and can be at a higher dose than you need, as many medications are prescribed based on a person’s weight. Federal and state law prohibits the sharing of prescription drugs that are controlled substances.
Safe Storage, as was mentioned above most young people who abuse or misuse prescription medications, get them from a parent, family member, or friend. Adults should take precautionary steps to make sure that their medications do not end up in the hands of their loved ones or their friends. Adults can make sure that their prescription medications are locked up, they can also keep an inventory of their medications. A blank medication inventory sheet can be found in the below resources.
Safe Disposal is encouraged for all community members. For starters, no one should hold onto unwanted or unused medications. By holding on to medications this opens the opportunity for them to get into unintended hands. Also, medications have an expiration date and over time will become ineffective or have an undesired effect. Secondly, we ask that you do not flush unwanted or unused medications down the toilet. Studies of our waterways have found traces of medications in the water and in fish. We also ask that you do not throw your medications in the garbage as people who know you have medications could go through your garbage to retrieve them. To properly dispose of your medications, you can take them to any of the following 10 Take It to the Box locations:
Alfred Pharmacy, 36 Main Street, Alfred.
Alfred State University Police, 10 Upper College Drive, Alfred.
Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, 4884 NY-19, Belmont.
Cuba Police Department, 15 Water Street, Cuba.
Fillmore Pharmacy, 10560 NY-19, Fillmore.
Friendship Pharmacy, 9 West Main Street, Friendship.
Nicholson Pharmacy, 36 Schulyer Street, Belmont.
Jones Memorial Hospital, 191 North Main Street, Wellsville.
Jones Memorial Medical Practice, 120 1st Street, Bolivar.
Wellsville Police Department, 46 South Main Street, Wellsville.
The Take It to the Box locations are available year-round and a free to community members. They are completely anonymous and confidential. Once the boxes are full the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office empties them and takes the collected medications to an incinerating location in Niagara County that renders the medications inert and harmless to the environment. In 2021 community members have dropped off almost 700 pounds of medications to the Take It to the Box locations.
Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.
Belmont, 6006 County Road 48.
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.
Bolivar, 135 Reed Street.
Open Wednesday and Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.
Caneadea, 9425 Molyneaux Road.
Open Wednesday and Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.
Canaseraga, 89 West Main Street.
Open Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.
Cuba/Friendship, 7912 County Road 20.
Open Thursday and Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.
Wellsville, 77 Dyke Street.
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 8am to 3:30pm.
We ask that before you dispose of your needles or sharps at any of these locations, please put them in a puncture proof container with a secure lid, such as a laundry detergent bottle. We want to protect people from unintentional pokes, for their safety. Before you put the bottle in the disposal box, please make sure the lid is tight.
By taking these steps we will make sure that prescription medications stay off our streets and out of the hands of our youth.
Andover and Friendship, NY – This past Saturday, April 24, was the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) first National Prescription Drug Take Back of 2021. Like so many communities across the country, Allegany County had two locations at the Andover Volunteer Ambulance Corp and Friendship Fire Department where community members could drop off unwanted or unused medications.
The pill drop events have been taking place in Allegany County since 2008. This has been a partnership between the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Inc. (ACASA), and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County (PPAC). “These events are an outlet for community members to get rid of old or unused medications in a safe manner and allows us the opportunity to educate them on resources available to them all year long,” said Coalition Coordinator Jon Chaffee. “We really want the community to practice Safe Use, Safe Storage, and Safe Disposal,” says Chaffee.
This year, 35 cars participated, for a total of 197.2 pounds of medications brought in by community members. “The Sheriff’s Office is happy to partner with PPAC for this important event as it gives our community an opportunity to help prevent drug addiction and overdoses, and to help protect the environment,” said Sheriff Rick Whitney. While community members were able to get rid of medications, they also received a Take It to the Box magnet that lists all the locations throughout the county. Community members are encouraged to not hold on to old medications and properly dispose of unwanted or unused medications, as family members are the most likely source for young people to get medications to abuse.
If community members were unable to participate in the Spring Pill Drop, Allegany County has ten Take It to the Box locations throughout the county at: Alfred Pharmacy, Alfred State University Police, the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office and Nicholson Pharmacy in Belmont, Cuba Police Department, Friendship Pharmacy, Fillmore Pharmacy, Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, Jones Memorial Medical Practice in Bolivar, and Wellsville Police Department. In 2021, 685 pounds of medications have been collected at the Take It to the Box locations by the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office. For more information on local pill drop boxes visit Take It to the Box.
For any community members who need to dispose of needles, they can go to any transfer station in Allegany County, as they have disposal boxes that are free to use and are available all year. To properly dispose of needles at a transfer station, please put all needles/sharps into a puncture proof container with a securable lid, such as a laundry detergent bottle. Community members can drop the whole bottle into the drop box at any Allegany County transfer station. To protect people from accidental pokes by needles, please make sure the lid is secure on the bottle and do not put loose needles inside the boxes. For more information on locally disposing of needles/sharps visit Sharps Take It to the Box.
The group would like to also thank the Andover Police Department and Volunteer Ambulance Corp, Friendship Fire Department and all the community members who participated to make the Take Back Day a successful one. For more information on pill drops or PPAC please visit www.ppaccentral.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram @ppac_central, or Twitter @PPACcentral.