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October 7, 2018 - 4:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in opioids, GCASA, batavia, news, notify.


To deal with the opioid crisis in New York, the state needs to an embrace an "all of the above" approach to find a way to keep people alive, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a visit to Batavia on Thursday.

Hochul was in town for a ribbon cutting at the new methodone clinic at GCASA. During her remarks Hochul talked about how the opioid crisis has led to tragedy in her own family, with a dose of heroin laced with fentanyl claiming the life of her nephew.

In an short interview after her remarks, Hochul said an "all of the above" approach could include consideration of safe injection sites. She was a little more vague about whether the state would consider following Portugal's lead, which decriminalized drug possession 18 years ago and established a program to help addicts find meaningful work, and as a result cut addiction rates in half and reduced overdose deaths to 30 to 50 a year, about 1/50th the rate of the United States. Prior to 2001, Portugal was known as the heroin capital of Europe.

"I don’t know we’re prepared to say anything about following a particular model," Hochul said. "We are considering all options is all I can say. If people have ideas, please bring them forward."

During her remarks, Hochul talked about her role, along with other state officials, of crisscrossing the state, meeting with residents and people on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. The result was legislation that not only led to the $850,000 grant to build the methodone clinic at GCASA but was recently amended to allow for medical marijuana to treat chronic pain. The legislation also attempts to eliminate the waiting time for an addict to get into treatment.

"We’re trying to figure out how do we stop people from dying literally in the streets and in their homes," Hochul told The Batavian.

Besides the methadone clinic, guests at the ribbon cutting were able to tour a new mobile treatement clinic that will allow GCASA staff to travel throughout the region and meet with addicts where they live, eliminating the need for them to travel to Batavia. It is important to note, the mobile clinic will not include a methadone dispensary, which by law must be at the approved facility in Batavia.

"That is why this is such a hopeful day for me," Hochul said while discussing the changes at GCASA. "To see what we can bring here, a new facility, an expansion, a mobile unit, which may look like an RV, recreational vehicle, but to me that’s a recovery vehicle."

Thursday, the governor's office also announced $900,000 in funding for 17 detox beds at GCASA. Director John Bennett showed off floor plans for a new detox facility on the East Main Street property.

"We often talk about going to treatment but we forget that before you can go into treatment, you have to go through detox," said Arlene González-Sánchez, commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. "Detox is really critical. Detrox is not treatment. It is the beginning of treatment and we’re so happy that we’re able to say that we will be able to have some detox beds in this whole region."

Brian Paris, president of the GCASA board, praised Bennett and the rest of the GCASA staff for their hard work in helping to establish the methadone clinic, the mobile unit, and soon the detox facility.

"We live in a changing world and GCASA is changing to support that changing world," Paris said.

Hochul's nephew, she said, started on his path to addiction after being prescribed painkillers when he cut his hand on a meat slicing machine in a delicatessen where he was working.

"That led to addiction, led to the streets, led to a decade of putting his mother and our family through hell as he tried to find a path forward," Hochul said.

The family thought he was past his addiction and on the right path. He was a graduate student at University of Buffalo  and a mentor to others trying to kick the habit. After he broke up with a girlfriend he slipped and tried one dose and died as a result.

"Be proud that your state has not run from this problem," Hochul said. "We have leaned into this problem."

NOTE: I took pictures of the ribbon cutting. I thought I imported those pictures in PhotoShop (Lightroom). I reformatted the card for another assignment and discovered later I hadn't imported the pictures. They are lost. My apologies to those involved.

September 12, 2018 - 12:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in bergen, news, GCASA, Bergen Evangelical Church.

Press release:

Guest speakers from Buffalo and the first Genesee County appearance of the new mobile unit of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) will highlight Freedom from Addiction starting at 10:30 a.m. this Sunday (Sept. 16) at Bergen's Sage Pavilion.

The free event is offered for people who are struggling with addiction or those who have loved ones who are struggling. 

Guest speakers include representatives of Adult and Teen Challenge of Buffalo, a nationwide organization that has a high success rate in helping people break free from destructive habits. 

GCASA will also unveil its new mobile unit that will be offering counseling and peer advocate services throughout Genesee and Orleans counties. People who attend the program will be able to visit the mobile unit, talk with a GCASA counselor and peer advocate supervisor to learn more about services that are available. 

GCASA will be rolling out these services through the mobile unit during the next month in Genesee County, then will expand the service into Orleans County as well.

Adult & Teen Challenge provides residential treatment. Two participants in the program will offer their stories of how they have been helped by this program. 

Sage Pavilion is at 62 S. Lake Ave. (Route 19) in the Village of Bergen. 

The event is sponsored by Bergen Evangelical Presbyterian Church. For more information, call 494-1251.

September 7, 2018 - 1:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in opioids, steve hawley, GCASA.

Press release:

The Finger Lakes region will be among 35 statewide recipients of federal funding through the Opioid State Target Response Grant, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) announced Thursday.

The initiative, which will appropriate $25.2 million in grants across the state to aid in the fight against substance abuse, provides assistance to programs that offer prevention, treatment and recovery services, increasing access to treatment for individuals in high-need areas in an effort to combat this statewide crisis.

The Opioid State Target Response Grant program, currently in its second year, announced Genesee County will be among 19 new counties that will receive funding to assist in the fight against opioid abuse this year. The Genesee Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) will directly benefit from this support, receiving a $650,000 grant through the program.

Additional programs throughout the Finger Lakes region will receive grants through this federally-funded program, including the Delphi Drug and Alcohol Council Inc.

“The far-reaching effects of the heroin and opioid epidemic are well documented, not only here in our community, but across our state and nation,” Hawley said. “As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to pursue any and all opportunities to secure support, at both the state and federal level, to assist the dedicated programs providing recovery and addiction treatment to the individuals affected by this statewide crisis.

"I am thrilled to see our community among the recipients of these grants and will remain committed to protecting our local families from the dangers of opioid abuse.”

To discuss the ongoing work being done to fight heroin and opioid abuse in our community, or any additional state matters, please contact Hawley’s district office at 585-589-5780. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, assistance can be found by calling 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).

August 1, 2018 - 4:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in opioids, addiction, methadone, GCASA, batavia, news.

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) is very pleased to announce that the Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) will open on Aug. 13. This will allow patients to receive methadone to treat their addiction.

GCASA has been providing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) since 2004. Like many other diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, patients require medication to treat their medical conditions.

Dr. Matthew Fernaays, GCASA’s medical director, has prescribed naltrexone and buprenorphine for patients for several years, with great success for some patients. But they don’t work for all patients. With the opening of the OTP, he will be able to prescribe methadone to treat a patient’s addiction, increasing access to appropriate treatment services for residents in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

Kathy Hodgins, senior services director at GCASA, said “The ability to provide methadone treatment in our rural area will help so many people in our community. Those who are unable to drive to Buffalo or Rochester daily will be able to access the care they need to treat their addiction right here in Batavia. This is huge for our community.”

Methadone is highly regulated and monitored. Licenses were obtained by NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Research shows that most communities with similar programs have decreased rates of crime because people are able to get the help they need, instead of having to steal to maintain their drug use.

GCASA is very excited to be able to offer this treatment to help fight the opioid crisis.

“We want to see people in recovery," says Executive Director John Bennett. "We are working hard to fill in the gaps that currently exist in treatment services. We know that there are many pathways to recovery and we are grateful to be able to provide another path with methadone.” 

GCASA has been serving Genesee and Orleans counties for more than 40 years. Services include prevention education and outpatient and residential treatment for individuals with substance use disorders; and an employee assistance program. For more information, please call 585-343-1124 or visit our website at gcasa.net.

GCASA is located at 430 E. Main St. in the City of Batavia.

March 14, 2018 - 3:42pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in GCASA, opioid addiction.

Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is hosting Recovery 101: For Families and Loved Ones” on Wednesday, March 21.  The event will be held at City Church Generation Center at 15 Center St., Batavia. 

Doors will open at 5 p.m. with various agency display tables and refreshments.

The event will include a panel presentation from 6-7:30 p.m. featuring Dr. Matthew Fernaays, GCASA’s medical director; Riley, a person in recovery; and Sandy, the parent of a young person in recovery. There will be time for questions from the audience.

In addition, training for use of opioid overdose reversal medication (NARCAN®) will be offered from 7:30-8 p.m. to those interested.

Please plan on attending if you are concerned about a loved one’s opioid use or want to know more about the disease of addiction and how it affects families. Registration is not necessary, but greatly appreciated. Please RSVP by calling 585-815-1883 by Friday, March 16.

February 9, 2018 - 4:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, GCASA.

Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) is very pleased to announce that it has been named one of the "Best Companies to Work for in New York State" for 2018.

“As a nonprofit organization it is often difficult to be competitive with compensation and benefits offered by the for profit sector," said John Bennett, GCASA executive director. "Here at GCASA, we are always looking to enhance employees’ day to day job satisfaction in meaningful ways.

"Being honored as a best company is the result of servant leaders, a dedicated professional staff and a wonderful board of directors.” 

GCASA will be honored at a public awards dinner to be held at the Albany Marriott on Wednesday, April 18. During the event, GCASA will learn its rank among the 27 companies in the category for small employers with 15-99 U.S. employees.

GCASA has been serving Genesee and Orleans Counties for more than 40 years. Services include prevention education and outpatient and residential treatment for individuals with substance use disorders; and an employee assistance program.

For more information, please contact Human Resource Director, Kim Corcoran at 585-815-1801.

February 9, 2018 - 4:08pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA.

Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) is very pleased to announce that it has been named one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York State for 2018.

“As a non-profit organization it is often difficult to be competitive with compensation and benefits offered by the for profit sector," GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said. "Here at GCASA, we are always looking to enhance employees’ day to day job satisfaction in meaningful ways.

"Being honored as a best company is the result of servant leaders, a dedicated professional staff and a wonderful board of directors." 

GCASA will be honored at a public awards dinner on April 18 at the Albany Marriott, where it will will learn its rank among the 27 companies in the category for small employers (with 15-99 U.S. employees).

The award is being given by the Best Companies Group, based in Harrisburg, Pa., which uses surveys and other information-gathering tools to (according to its website) “identify and recognize” places of employment that are leading the way in defining the employee experience of the 21st century.

GCASA has been serving Genesee and Orleans Counties for over 40 years.  Services include prevention education and outpatient and residential treatment for individuals with substance use disorders; and an employee assistance program.

For more information, please contact Human Resource Director, Kim Corcoran at 585-815-1801.

September 28, 2017 - 1:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, GCASA.


Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is sad to say goodbye to Dr. Magdi Credi. Dr. Credi began working as the Medical Director at GCASA almost seven years ago. At that time, he was trained in addiction medicine by GCASA’s former Medical Director, Dr. Charles King.

Dr. Credi has been an integral part of GCASA’s medical team, providing healthcare services and medication-assisted treatment for many patients over the years. His kindness and compassion toward people suffering from substance use disorders have been greatly appreciated by patients and staff. 

Executive Director John Bennett recalls why he wanted to recruit Dr. Credi to be GCASA’s Medical Director.

“Our conversation centered on Dr. Credi being a healer and that people with an addiction need compassionate medical care," Bennett said. "We have been blessed to have him as our Medical Director for many years and more recently as part of the medical team.”

Dr. Credi stated, “Working with our patients has been very eye-opening. I am very thankful to John Bennett for having the vision to provide methadone treatment.”

Dr. Credi worked his last day at GCASA today, Sept. 28th. He plans to enjoy his retirement by spending time traveling and enjoying his grandchildren.

September 20, 2017 - 8:40am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Tri-County Welding, GCASA, O-AT-KA Milk.

Owners of an East Main Street welding business made a compelling argument before the City Planning & Development Committee Tuesday night and, as a result, are one step away from achieving their goal to convert a former auto repair shop into a storage facility.

“Absolutely,” said PDC Chairperson Duane Preston, when asked if Daniel and Joyce Mattice, owners of Tri-County Welding at 649 E. Main St., had a strong case for a proposal to transform five of the six bays of the former Mazur’s Auto Repair into retail storage units.

“Since he has the right to put a junkyard in there, this is definitely the softer of all choices,” Preston said. “Now it will be an enclosed building, cleaned up, with no dust, no junk and little traffic.”

The Mattices purchased the Mazur building at 643-645 E. Main St. through foreclosure last year and have put around $40,000 into upgrading it, while renting out the front of the building – office space -- to Anything Your Heart Desires floral shop.

They said they unsuccessfully tried to get someone to rent the auto repair shop before coming up with the idea of storage units. City zoning laws, however, do not permit storage units in an Industrial-1 zone, meaning that the Mattices had to seek an area variance.

Their request was recommended for disapproval by the Genesee County Planning Board last week, but their presentation last night – buoyed by statements from attorney Michael Del Plato – convinced the PDC that their plan could work.

“This is an opportunity to protect your property, and they should be able to take advantage of it,” Del Plato said, noting that there are many businesses in that area. “We can’t legislate through City Council every potential use; the local boards have to help us out here.”

Del Plato called the variance request “minimal” in scope with “much less density” than the building’s previous use, and noted that the business is in an “Industrial zone surrounded by commercial uses.”

Joyce Mattice said she had signed statements from the surrounding business owners in support of their venture, ensuring the PDC that there would be no hazardous materials or tires on site.

The PDC voted unanimously to approve the variance. The request now goes in front of the City Zoning Board of Appeals on Sept. 28, needing four out of five “yes” votes for final approval.

Preston said the Mattices’ request comes at a “transitional period” (in relation to zoning) in that the updated Comprehensive Plan is nearly finalized and will be addressed by City Council.

“In this case, we took into account the particular area and the makeup of the neighborhood,” he said.

In other action, the committee:

-- Approved a site plan for a proposed 2,700-square-foot addition at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse campus on East Main Street, which would be used as a methadone clinic to treat people with opioid addictions.

This action comes on the heels of a similar recommendation by the Genesee County Planning Board.

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett and project architect Raymond Murphy presented the plan last night, reiterating the immediate need for such a facility in light of what Bennett terms a “national epidemic.”

The new clinic, with an April 2018 opening target date, will be funded by an $820,000 grant from the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, Bennett said.

Plans are for it to be open in the morning from Monday through Saturday for people to take their prescription and head off to their daily tasks.

The addition will result in an increase of 38 parking spaces on the campus, raising the total parking capacity to 72 spaces.

-- Recommended approval of a 20,075-square-foot, one-story addition to an industrial use building at O-At-Ka Milk Products on Cedar Street.

The $2.5 million addition would be placed adjacent to the existing warehouse space to the west and south on the property. Work is expected to start in less than a month.

March 1, 2017 - 5:24pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, GCASA.

Press release:

The Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Foundation will award two $1,000 scholarships, one to a Genesee County resident and one to an Orleans County resident. 

GCASA Foundation supports the work of GCASA and other nonprofit organizations in Genesee and Orleans counties. Several organizations have received mini-grants to help sustain the crucial work they do in our community. Now, individuals pursuing a degree in Health Sciences or Human Services can apply for scholarship money that will help them pay for college.

The board of directors of both GCASA and GCASA Foundation are committed to providing quality services. Educated, skilled employees and board members are the necessary ingredients for effective service delivery.

GCASA Foundation Board Vice President Jim Morey stated, “Because GCASA exists to help people avoid or recover from addictions, GCASA Foundation believes in honoring area students who seek careers in which they too will help other people.”

GCASA Foundation has been pleased to honor some exceptional students in the past.

“The only joy greater than reading the personal essays written by all the bright, gifted young people who submit applications is seeing the looks on the winners' faces as they receive the scholarships for which they competed,” Morey said. 

Individuals whose primary residence is in Orleans or Genesee County and who have been accepted at an accredited college in an eligible program such as Social Work, Nursing, Health Science or Human Services are encouraged to apply. Scholarship criteria and applications are available in high school counseling offices throughout both counties and on-line by visiting www.gcasa.net

January 27, 2017 - 3:31pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA.

Press release:

BATAVIA – The Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Foundation will award two $1,000 scholarships, one to a Genesee County resident and one to an Orleans County resident. 

GCASA Foundation supports the work of GCASA and other nonprofit organizations in Genesee and Orleans counties. Several organizations have received mini-grants to help sustain the crucial work they do in our community. Now, individuals pursuing a degree in Health Sciences or Human Services can apply for scholarship money that will help them pay for college.

The Board of Directors of both GCASA and GCASA Foundation are committed to providing quality services. Educated, skilled employees and board members are the necessary ingredients for effective service delivery.

GCASA Foundation Board Vice President Jim Morey stated, “Because GCASA exists to help people avoid or recover from addictions, GCASA Foundation believes in honoring area students who seek careers in which they too will help other people.”

GCASA Foundation has been pleased to honor some exceptional students in the past.

“The only joy greater than reading the personal essays written by all the bright, gifted young people who submit applications is seeing the looks on the winners' faces as they receive the scholarships for which they competed,” Morey said. 

Individuals whose primary residence is in Orleans or Genesee County and who have been accepted at an accredited college in an eligible program such as Social Work, Nursing, Health Science or Human Services are encouraged to apply. Scholarship criteria and applications are available in high school counseling offices throughout both counties and online by visiting www.gcasa.net.

January 12, 2017 - 5:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCASA, batavia, news.

Genesee Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse will receive $820,000 in state money for an opioid treatment program. The money will fund 150 treatment slots.

Press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $8.1 million awarded to eight addiction treatment providers in seven counties across New York State. Funding will support construction needs and operational assistance for treatment programming, and the development of up to 80 new residential treatment beds and 600 new Opioid Treatment Program slots. These awards build on the Governor’s aggressive efforts to combat opioid misuse and heroin use, and the disease of addiction. 

“This administration continues the fight against opioid and heroin addiction and this funding will help ensure more New Yorkers will get the help they need to get on the road to recovery," Governor Cuomo said. “These new beds will help change lives and save lives, and bring us one step closer to a stronger and healthier New York for all." 

"Governor Cuomo is leading the charge to combat the devastating heroin and opioid crisis affecting families all across New York State. That includes ensuring immediate access to the supports and services needed for a successful recovery,” said Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, co-chair of the Governor's task force to combat heroin and opioid addiction. “This is about saving people’s lives and these new treatment opportunities will provide even more people with the critical services they need to overcome addiction.”

November 21, 2016 - 3:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCASA, batavia, news.


Press release:

The Western New York Chemical Dependency Consortium held its annual Gold Key Awards and Holiday Luncheon in Buffalo on Friday, Nov. 18. Dr. Bruce Baker, currently a medical consultant for GCASA, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Dr. Baker graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1959. He worked as the Genesee County Jail physician for 25 years, which is where he began addressing substance abuse issues with his patients. He also worked as the medical director of Hope Haven Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Inpatient Service at United Memorial Medical Center from 1963-2013. While Dr. Baker has been a physician for almost 60 years, he has worked in the addiction field for more than 35 years. 

Dr. Baker has been on the cutting edge of addiction medicine throughout his career. He was an early adopter of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). As the medical director at Hope Haven, he was responsible for the initiation of Suboxone treatment. He recognized early on, especially working at the Genesee County Jail, that individuals who suffered from addiction needed treatment, both medically and therapeutically. 

Dr. Baker is extremely knowledgeable about addiction. He shares his knowledge with others in a straightforward, uncomplicated way. He created an easy to understand document, Opioid Addiction and Medically Assisted Treatment, to share with his patients. In this document he describes what opiate addiction is, how the brain is affected, and how MAT can help. He truly wants to help people; and he does. Dr. Baker has helped thousands of patients in the WNY region recover from addiction. 

When asked about his greatest accomplishment in his career, Dr. Baker acknowledged his service of providing medical care to patients for more than 50 years. He adds that at 83 years old, he plans to continue practicing and loves the work he does at GCASA. Dr. Baker shared that of all the work he has done throughout his career, including delivering babies and working in his family practice, he feels most fulfilled in his work at GCASA. His compassion for his patients is exceptional. 

In addition to his career accomplishments, he’s very proud of his family. He and his wife raised six children and have a total of 21 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

May 13, 2016 - 8:00am
posted by Traci Turner in heroin addiction, batavia, elba, GCASA, opioids.


(Two doses of Narcan, a medication used to reverse opioid overdose, with a nosepiece applicator are kept in every road bag at the Batavia Police Department.)

Jenna Brown was an honor student and captain of the cheerleading squad at Elba High School. Like any typical teenage girl, Brown wanted to fit in so she drank and experimented with drugs to get her peers to like her. She found partying to be empowering and never thought addiction would happen to her. Although she had a lot of friends, she felt alone.

In 2012, she graduated from high school and went off to Alfred State College to get an associate degree in Nursing. Everything seemed to be fine until she went through a bad breakup during her first year. She was shattered inside and didn’t know how to cope.

Brown’s mom, Kathy Miller, noticed some changes in her daughter’s behavior but just thought she was trying to find her way.

“She would call at all different times, sometimes crying, sometimes homesick, sometimes sounding lost and sometimes happy,” Miller said. “That first semester was chaotic.”

In an attempt to make new friends, Brown started partying again and met a guy. After hanging out with him several times and watching him make frequent trips to the bathroom, she discovered he was using heroin. By then her drinking was out of control and she was curious about using. The guy helped her inject her first hit of heroin.

“I loved it and hated it at the same time,” Brown said. “I hated it for the way it physically made me feel but mentally it was the solution for me. It helped take away the loneliness. When I did heroin, I didn’t care about being alone.”

Heroin use has more than doubled among young adults ages 18 to 25 in the past decade according to the Centers for Disease Control. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health stated 2.4 million people abused or were dependent on opioids including heroin and prescription painkillers. Opiates are drugs derived from the opium poppy. Opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs that are manufactured to work in a similar way to opiates. The term opioid is used to describe the entire class of opiates including natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic.

Over the last few years, Genesee County has seen the opioid epidemic on the rise. Genesee Orleans County on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has about 100 patients on Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid addiction. Approximately one-third of individuals in Genesee County Drug Treatment Court are opiate dependent.


(Nicole Desmond, drug court treatment coordinator, Judge Robert Balbick and Jeffrey Smith, project director for the 8thJudicial District.)

“We have been doing treatment court for 15 years,” said Judge Robert Balbick, who runs Genesee County Drug Treatment Court. “Opiate addiction has changed the way we look at treatment because we’re dealing with a deadly situation.”

Due to the high risk of overdose, quick access to treatment is crucial. Throughout the program, Nicole Desmond, drug court treatment coordinator, strictly monitors participants’ progress by getting weekly updates from them and issuing random drug testing. The program lasts an average of 18 months. If participants relapse, the team takes immediate measures to get them into inpatient treatment to prevent overdose.

In 2015, 15 deaths were caused by drug-induced overdoses in the county according to the Genesee County Health Department. Prescription opiates were used in combination with other prescription drugs and/or illicit drugs that contributed to at least six deaths. An illicit opiate was used in combination with prescription drugs that contributed to at least two additional deaths.

“Heroin is increasing steadily to the point where now we are dealing with overdoses,” said Det. Sgt. Todd Crossett at the Batavia Police Department. “It’s all over and it’s become a lot more dangerous than cocaine was because it’s being laced with synthetic fentanyl which you don’t know what you’re having until you inject it and it’s too late.”

Drug dealers cut the heroin with fentanyl, the strongest opioid used for medical purposes, to increase the potency. This deadly trend has led to a recent surge of overdose deaths. Batavia police officers carry Narcan, a drug used to reverse opioid overdose, in their cars. When they respond to a potential overdose call, the needle is often times nearby in the presence of fentanyl.

“If they have gotten fentanyl in the drug the needle may still be in them because fentanyl is so fast acting they might not have been able to put the stuff away,” Crossett said.


(Todd Crossett of the Batavia Police Department with the supplies bag that every road officer carries in their car.)

Andrew London, a 24-year-old recovering alcoholic and opioid addict, recently lost a close friend to a heroin overdose. She passed away a month before he could give her a tree of life necklace he bought her for Christmas.

“As soon as you see someone close to you use and die, it hits you,” London said. “It was one of the saddest things I have ever experienced.”

London has been convicted of two DWIs and has been receiving treatment on and off for alcohol addiction since he was 18 years old. He became addicted to opioids after being prescribed hydrocodone for back pain in August 2011. As a result, he started misusing the painkiller and violated his probation.

“Drugs don’t discriminate,” London said. “Overdoses can happen to anyone.”

In particular, however, women, the privately insured and people with higher incomes are those with the highest increase in heroin use according to the CDC.

“This is truly a white middle-class problem,” said John Bennett, executive director at GCASA. “We are not talking about street junkies anymore. Many addicts function like normal people.”

For a while, Brown, the 21-year-old recovering heroin addict, was able to maintain her addiction and continued getting good grades. She was playing two different people and no one had any idea that she was a heroin addict. However, on the inside she hated herself.

"Advances in Psychiatric Treatment," a medical journal, report 48 percent of opioid users have experienced depression at some point in their lives.

“One of the biggest things with addiction that people don’t understand is that 99 percent of the people that walk through our doors are in some kind of emotional or physical pain,” said Shannon Murphy, director of treatment at GCASA. “To ask them to stop taking it, is like having a raw open nerve.”

Brown’s next high was always in the back of her mind. Her addiction spun out of control after she graduated college in December 2014. She moved back home in Elba and her parents found out she was using. She overdosed several times. Her mom took her to Erie County Medical Center but the doctors sent her back home because she wasn’t using enough bags in a day for inpatient treatment. She attempted to stop using on her own but the withdrawal symptoms were too severe.

“She would try to go through withdrawal but it was awful for her and for me,” Miller said. “She was so thin, so frail and so sickly. Her beautiful blue eyes sunken in and gone, replaced by lifeless empty sockets. She had such pale, bluish-gray skin.”

Brown was ashamed for putting her parents and siblings through everything. However, she was afraid to get sober because she never thought she would feel good.

“People always tried to scare me into getting sober,” Brown said. “I wasn’t afraid to die. I was afraid of suffering. It got to a point where I either continued to kill myself or get help.”

She was tired of feeling sick and determined to try for something better. She started going to outpatient treatment at GCASA and was put on a waiting list for detox treatment at the Horizon Village Terrace House in Buffalo.

“I woke up at three in the afternoon and I was going to get high at four when my mom told me there was a bed available,” Brown said. “It was heaven to my ears but nails on a chalkboard. There is something taunting about knowing you could get high in an hour or be saved in an hour.”

In October, she completed the detox and started a 28-day inpatient rehab program at the Terrace House. During inpatient, she started taking Vivitrol, an injectable medication to prevent relapse for opioid dependence after detox.

Vivitrol is a trade name for naltrexone, one of the medications approved by the Federal Drug Administration to treat opioid addiction. The medication attaches to opioid receptors in the brain and blocks pleasurable feelings associated with opioids and reduces cravings. The blocking effect decreases over time so addicts must receive the shot each month by a healthcare professional. While receiving the medication, the addicted individuals cannot be using opioids or severe sickness and death may occur.

A more common medication is buprenorphine, an opioid partial agonist. The medication can produce opioid effects but the effects are less than a full opioid agonist such as heroin. Buprenorphine binds to opioid receptors in the brain and blocks the effects of other opioids that may be present in the bloodstream. Low doses allow addicts to stop misusing opioids without having withdrawal symptoms. If dosing is not heavily monitored, it can be easily abused.

Suboxone is one of the prescription formulas with buprenorphine and naloxone, medication used in Narcan. The daily medication is a digestible film that is dissolved under the tongue.

“We have patients who have been on it for years that say they don’t expect to ever get off this,” said Cheryle McCann, RN at GCASA. “As long as they have a prescriber who can take over for us, we don’t have a problem with that. It’s like someone who is on blood pressure medicine.”

However, finding a doctor who is willing to take a patient with a history of opioid dependence is difficult. There are currently three prescribers in the county.

“The biggest problem I see in our county right now is there are not many doctors in our community that will prescribe buprenorphine,” McCann said. “The DEA regulate buprenorphine more stringently than they regulate the prescribing of opioids. An opioid can be prescribed by a physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant and dentist. But buprenorphine can only be prescribed by a physician.”

According to Bennett, about 35 percent of their patients struggle with Suboxone so they offer Vivitrol as another option. In the future, he would like to get the treatment facility licensed to be a methadone clinic.

“Medicated assisted treatments are misunderstood by communities,” Bennett said. “Law enforcement and judges don’t always believe patients are clean while on the treatments. We need to look at opiate patients like heart or diabetic patients and support their treatment. Patients with addiction have better compliance with medication than patients with other diseases.”


(Cheryle McCann and John Bennett of GCASA sit on the bench where patients receive their monthly Vivitrol shots.)

In addition to the medicated assisted treatment, countless meetings, counseling, advice from other recovering addicts and faith in God taught Brown how to live day to day and helped her set a good foundation.

“At the end of the day I’m still a recovering addict and one drug away from being high,” Brown said. “Any day clean is a miracle.”

Once Brown completed the 28-day rehab program, she went to Horizon Village, a long-term residential rehab center, for three months. From there she moved into Casa De Vita, a halfway house, and made friends who she could call on all hours of the day and night. This was the first time she realized her friends genuinely cared about her wellbeing. Her mom also started attending Nar-Anon, a support group for families struggling with addiction in Batavia, to learn how she could support her daughter’s recovery.

Miller and Donna Rose, a mother whose son is addicted to heroin, will be hosting a heroin town hall meeting for parents of addicts at 6:30 p.m. May 17 at  Genesee Community College. The meeting will focus on treatment costs and denial of insurance for recovering addicts.

“I learned nothing I do will cure her disease but I can choose for myself to stay healthy, supportive and loving,” Miller said. “Everyday I’m thankful that Jenna is alive and I try to learn something that will prevent someone else from using. We need more heroin awareness. People need to start understanding the disease instead of judging it.”

Support from family and friends has also been important for London’s recovery.

After completing a 28-day inpatient treatment program at Hope Haven and several months at Atwater, GCASA’s halfway house, London has been clean for seven months. He currently goes to meetings at Horizon Health Services once a week. His pregnant wife and circle of friends he met while in recovery have been significant motivators for him to not relapse.

“I want to be there for my daughter and not have to see her on a visiting floor in jail,” London said. “I don’t want her to see me under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”


​(Andrew London, a recovering alcoholic and opioid addict, has been clean for seven months.)

Brown is looking to the future, too. She recently moved in with her sponsor and is applying for full-time jobs – and looking for an apartment.

“I’m able to look people in the eyes today and be at peace with things that happened in my life,” Brown said. “The greatest thing today is I don’t want to get high and that gives me a feeling of gratitude because I thought that was how to make friends. Now I can love myself and take my flaws as they come.”

March 18, 2016 - 6:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCASA, news, batavia.

A person is stuck in an elevator at 430 E. Main St. in Batavia due to a power outage. City fire is responding. The location is GCASA.

October 25, 2013 - 7:14pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Announcements, theater, GCC, GCASA.

Press release:

In celebration of Red Ribbon Week, Genesee County Drug Free Communities Coalition, a program of GCASA, presents the North American tour of the new hit stage play “Pass It On…An Evening with Bill W. & Dr. Bob.”  The production is a dramatization of the early history of Alcoholics Anonymous, delivered with a message of hope, help and the miracle of recovery.

This highly acclaimed two-man show comes to Batavia for a one-time engagement on Tuesday, October 29th at 6:30pm, at the Stuart Steiner Theatre at Genesee Community College.

This unique, inspirational and often hilarious theatrical production celebrates sobriety and serves as the centerpiece for an international recovery education project, raising awareness about the solution to North America’s number one public health issue – the disease of alcoholism and addiction.

“Pass It On…An Evening with Bill W. & Dr. Bob” has created excitement among audiences and recovery communities.  The show travels across the United States and Canada, appearing in such cities as Phoenix, Sacramento, Tucson, San Antonio, Delray, Ottawa, Little Rock and now Batavia.  Audiences experience an unforgettable evening of inspirational entertainment that aims to enhance recovery, inspire hearts and reach people who cannot be reached in any other way.

The show transports audiences to the late 1940s to meet Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the beloved cofounders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  They tell their stories, share their experiences, strength and hope, and dramatize key events – such as their legendary drinking sprees and the extraordinary night they met in Akron, Ohio in 1935.

Audiences will be regaled with fascinating and hilarious yarns about the early history of AA – including the writing and publication of "The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous," the creation of the "12 Steps," and how the protagonists overcame tremendous obstacles as they struggled to develop their new recovery program and pass it on to others.

Reservations are suggested; call Diane at 815-1883 or e-mail [email protected].  A $5.00 donation is recommended.

October 20, 2013 - 6:05pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in GCASA, recovery, art.

Lynette Gawron, clinical supervisor and licensed creative arts therapist at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse (GCASA), proudly presented clients' artwork at the "Fall Recovery Art Show" on Saturday.

Organized in groups of eight people or less, art therapy sessions focus less on the finished product and more on the creative process. For this reason, Gawron likes to meet with people individually before they start. She says people sometimes come into it with the misconception that it is "arts and crafts" or training in how to be a better artist.

In reality, the process is quite different.

"It's about getting in touch with your true self," Gawron said, adding that the "true self" tends to be suppressed by addiction.

Gawron said art therapy helps to bring the unaddressed problems and issues that fuel or are suppressed by addiction to light.

"The emotional bubbling-up can be overwhelming," Gawron said. "(Art therapy) can be a way to channel that."


The artist made this to show how her faith in God is helping her to "pick up the pieces" of her life and move forward.

Another made and showcased three masks:

One representing lovableness and happiness, but with memories of his/her deceased father, uncles and grandmother on the inside...

...another with various colors symbolizing the artist's hopes, fears and mistakes throughout the years...

...and a third depicting a calm exterior with "chaotic" emotions inside that come out "a little at a time."

This poster reflects the unidentified artist's anger at what addiction has done to his/her life.

Here is the bottom half:

Here is the artist's own description of this work: "This is about Light on the face and a path like the 'yellow brick road.' I look through the windows on my path at new things as I make choices in my life."

The artist who made this was present at the event. She said this represents, at the same time, the oppression of her addiction and the freedom (symbolized by the butterfly) of her recovery.

Other projects in which the clients are involved include:

1. Altered books...

...such as this one containing tiny drawers, pockets, pictures and other items. Gawron described it as a kind of journaling. Each page might have a separate theme relevant to the artist.

2. Writing about all the negativity in one's life, painting over the writing and overlaying it with positive words and/or imagery.

For more information, call Gawron at 815-1850 or e-mail [email protected].

May 23, 2013 - 2:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, GCASA.

To help promote an anti-smoking message, GCASA has placed about 50 T-shirts on PVC-pipe hangers along the edge of the agencies property at 430 E. Main St., Batavia.

March 9, 2012 - 1:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, GCASA, Lisa Barrett.

Tomorrow is the first of three singing auditions for students in grades 8 to 12 in Genesee and Orleans counties who would like to participate in a professionally recorded music project with renowned local artist Lisa Barrett.

The Batavia singer/songwriter wrote a poignant song called "Everyday Hero" -- about youths who choose to be drug, alcohol and tobacco free, and who are positive leaders. She is sponsored by GCASA, where she is a prevention educator, and received a Reach Grant this year from GO ART!

Barrett is hoping to gather a choir of about 30 students to perform this song on Saturday, April 30, at the Linden Oaks Studio in Rochester where it will be professionally recorded.

After the recording is complete, the song will then be turned into a You Tube music video.

Along with the audition, potential choir members will be asked to submit a short essay. The essay content should include why they want to be a part of this project, as well as their views on tobacco, drugs and alcohol use.

Either email completed essays to [email protected] or bring a copy to the audition.

The auditions will be held at GCASA’s Batavia site, 430 E. Main St.

The audition dates are as follows:

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 10
  • 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 14
  • 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 22

For more information, contact Lisa by phoning 815-1879 or by email at [email protected]

The Everyday Heroes Project is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

December 23, 2011 - 12:16pm

David Markham has been at the helm of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse (GCASA) for more than a decade. Today, he retires from his job as its executive director.

Here the 65-year-old Markham introduces himself:

Since he started at GCASA in 2000, the organization has developed some notable new programs and won numerous national awards for both treatment and prevention programs.

The prevention efforts alone have received a government grant to head up a Drug-Free Communities Coalition (DFC) for Genesee County. In addition, they've received grants to mentor two other coalitions -- one in Orleans County and one in Lancaster/Depew.

They have earned such honors as: the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America's (CADCA) Got Outcomes! Award in the category of "Coalition as a Whole" in 2006; the National Exemplary Award from the National Association of State Alcohol/Drug Abuse Directors ('07) ; and selection as Coalition of the Year by CADCA ('07).

Below, Markham answers some questions about himself and his career.

Did you grow up wanting to pursue a career in the social work/mental health field?

No. My college degree was in philosophy, with a minor in sociology. My first job was as a psychiatric social worker trainee at Kings Park in Rochester. At that time, the Department of Mental Hygiene (which no longer exists) was awarding grants for people to pursue careers in social work. So I went back to school on a grant from them and got a master's degree in social work from SUNY Albany. As I got into the field, I gradually held positions with greater responsibility.

I understand you have a private practice in Brockport. What type of counseling do you do?

As a licensed clinical social worker, I kind of do it all. Most of my clients deal with stress-related problems like anxiety and depression. They might have problems with their families, at work...sometimes they're dealing with grief, too. I also do couples and family counseling.

How did you get into the administrative aspect of the social work field?

Having been a clinician, I felt I had ideas about how services could be organized more effectively and efficiently. It has kind of been a dual career of mine, because I’ve continued to have my own practice. I’ve found the two (clinical and administrative work) to be interrelated in an intimate way. The way I see it, the manager is like an architect, and the clinician is the general contractor he hires to carry out the plan. There are key processes that govern the way services are delivered and develop the ability to implement those services. 

When and how did you come to GCASA?

I came in 2000. Before that, I had been the director of clinical operations at the Rochester Health Association, and about half of their programs were related to substance abuse. I left in 2000 and was looking for something else, and it just so happened that Sharon McWethy (GCASA's executive director at the time) was retiring.

What would you say has been your management philosophy during your 11 years at GCASA?

My overall philosophy is collaborative and participatory. I think it's important to understand what is important to all of the various stakeholders, whether these are clients, families, members of the community, etc. I guess I'd say I'm the opposite of an autocrat. I like to work in a way that elicits not just the cooperation, but the enthusiasm of the multiple stakeholders. That way, we can all work productively toward a common goal.

You are originally from, and currently live in, Brockport. Having worked in Genesee County through the DFC and through prevention, what has been your impression of the Genesee County community?

It's the most wonderful place I've worked in the world. And I'm not just sucking up -- I think it's the Garden of Eden. Everyone from the county executive to the Batavia city manager, to the schools to the legislature, has been great to work with. You get to know all of the officials on a very personal and collaborative level, and there's a great sense of overall collective welfare.

You don't get that in Monroe County--there's too much bureaucracy. It's more divided. There's not the kind of corruption (in Genesee or Orleans counties) that you see in Monroe County or Erie County, so it's easier to get things done. I think one of the reasons GCASA has won all these awards and been able to implement all these new programs is that the community is smaller and more tightly knit. The programs can be at a scale that's easier to design and implement.

The thing about both Genesee and Orleans counties is that even though these are rural communities, the people are very sophisticated. They're surprisingly well-educated. They have wonderful cultural opportunities because of their access to Buffalo and Rochester. So they have all the advantages of smaller, more tightly knit communities plus these cultural benefits.

The people I know (in Genesee County) are very good people. They have very good values and integrity. Working and living here has been extremely satisfying and fulfilling.

GCASA has been noted for giving employees the benefit of flexible schedules, as well as flexibility in how they manage their work projects. Some people in the business world would say this is the wrong thing to do, because it leads to a drop in productivity. How would you defend your workplace policies at GCASA?

At GCASA, we have created an atmosphere that I would like to believe is empowering to employees. And overall, it's been extremely effective. We get great outcomes, our employee satisfaction is pretty high, and we have one of the best workplaces in New York State. The fact that we've won national awards for our work says that we must be doing something right.

One thing that we, as managers, have to realize is that our employees are adults. They manage their own lives, and we should be able to respect their integrity and maturity. I don't understand why a lot of organizations feel they have to micromanage their employees. There is protocol (for workplace projects, etc.), sure -- but no one knows how to do the work better than the people who are actually engaged in it.

As a manager, my concern is with results -- which is why, when I started at GCASA, one of the first things I did was develop an outcome-based job description. A lot of job descriptions are output-based.

Our employees are adults, so we expect them to be able to get the work done (without having to micromanage them)...There are a lot of ways management works with employees to determine the "what." How they get there depends. Employees should always have opportunities to conduct themselves in a way that works for them, as long as they're getting their work done and as long as they're respecting their coworkers.

You had two young children who were killed by a drunk driver in 1993. How has that influenced your work in the field of alcohol and substance abuse?

Well, I was in the field beforehand -- that's the irony of it. It just goes to show that it can happen to anyone. I would have been doing the work I've been doing regardless. But has it influenced my enthusiasm and passion for the work? Absolutely. And I also think it has influenced my credibility when I speak at Victim Impact Panels. I try to be professional about it, but my personal experience is brought to bear.

A lot of these issues can be seen as academic, professional, or as policy issues, which they are. But these personal stories make it more real for folks. It's like (they say), "Reality is when it happens to you." Substance abuse is a lethal disease, whether we're talking about liver disease from alcohol abuse or silly nonsense like drinking and driving. Tragedies show the importance of a healthy and high-functioning community.

Do you have any words of advice for your successor?

Well, it's an easy transition, because John Bennett (former director of GCASA's treatment services) and I share a lot of the same values. I guess what I would say to John is, first of all, to be understanding of our collaborators and have healthy, meaningful, positive relationships with all stakeholders. We work across systems. I think what has made GCASA so successful is its great collaborative partners. It's a lot of work, but if we work to maintain those relationships, we'll be okay.

What do you plan to do now?

I'm going to continue with my private practice on a part-time basis. I've been working two jobs for years, and I'm finally at a point in my life where I can work just one. I'm also involved in a lot of activities for the Village of Brockport and for my church. Finally, I plan on spending more time with family -- I have seven children and 13 grandchildren.

Markham's birthday is Christmas Day. He will be 66.

For more information on GCASA, visit the organization's blog, GCASA Cares, at www.gcasacares.blogspot.com.


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