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July 15, 2021 - 11:20am

GCASA programs 'connect' to state agency's public awareness campaign focusing on social supports

Local professionals in the field of substance use prevention and treatment are applauding the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports launching of a new “Connections” campaign acknowledging the significance of social relationships in the fight against addiction.

On Tuesday, OASAS announced the start of a campaign that will run through the end of August designed to encourage those affected by addiction to use their connections to friends, family members, health professionals, and other organizations as a means to find help and support in their treatment and recovery.

Partial funding of the campaign is a result of an award to the state through the federal State Opioid Response grant.

“Staff here at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse are keenly aware that social connections with family and friends are vital for a person’s recovery,” said Shannon Ford, GCASA's director of Communications and Development. “When we had to close The Recovery Station to the public due to COVID, it was devastating.”

Ford was speaking about the facility at the former Bohn’s Restaurant on Clinton Street Road that serves as a social gathering place for those in recovery. With COVID-19 restrictions lifted, it since has reopened for programming on a regular basis.

“Now that it's open again, you can see how great of a resource it is. People are coming every day,” she said, adding that GCASA’s day-to-day support has continued at its residential treatment settings.

When talking about the prevention aspect of substance use education, Ford also mentioned the importance of family and peer connections.

“With so much isolation, people are more likely to cope by using alcohol or other drugs. Kids weren't able to see their friends or go to school. The lack of connection took its toll on the mental well-being of our community members,” she said.

Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, GCASA’s director of Project Innovation and Expansion, pointed to the summer camp in July and August being offered by the agency’s drop-in childcare center for clients.

“GCASA clients already could use the childcare center at no cost for up to three hours per day for any kind of GCASA appointment or service and with prior approval from the childcare supervisor,” she said.

Those activities, all critical to the recovery process, include mutual aid meetings, any other kind of healthcare appointment, court, accessing domestic violence or veterans services, Department of Social Services appointments and job interviews.

“During the mini-camp, clients can actually bring their kids to the center for up to three hours a day for any reason at all -- including just for the fun of attending the activities and being with other people,” Mangino-Crandall advised.

In a press release issued by OASAS, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul stated the “Connections” campaign “not only helps get the word out on lifesaving resources and services for New Yorkers who are battling addiction and substance use disorder, but is also a reminder that help is available to find a better and satisfying life.”

Campaign content will run online on social media and streaming audio. Public Service Announcements will also be seen on billboards, city buses, subways, and the Staten Island Ferry with messages addressing the importance of connections and personal well-being, in addition to focusing on opioid overdose prevention and the use of naloxone to save lives.

New Yorkers are also encouraged to focus on the value of connections and how they help to foster the best outcomes for overcoming addiction and finding a better and satisfying life.

The “Connections” campaign also raises awareness about the risks of overdoses due to the presence of fentanyl in other illicit substances. Fentanyl is a lethal opioid that has been detected in other illicit substances such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and ecstasy, which can result in overdoses and fatalities.

New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369), or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).

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