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New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports

January 7, 2022 - 11:49am

campbell_1.jpgStephanie Campbell has felt the pain of addiction in her life and now — as a key employee at the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports in Albany – she works to help others overcome the devastating effects of substance use disorder.

So, on Thursday afternoon, as she toured the new detox center on the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse campus on East Main Street and spoke to the 50 or so people attending an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony, Campbell’s appreciation and gratitude came shining through.

Campbell (photo above) introduced herself as the director of OASAS’ Behavioral Health Ombudsman office, a program that connects people to substance use and mental health treatment.

“But, more importantly,” she said. “My name is Stephanie Campbell and I'm a person in sustained recovery. And what that means for me is somewhere in 1989, someone picked me out of the gutter, and gave me the message of hope. And, and I say that because so many people right now are desperate for that hope and that care and that compassion.”

One of four speakers during the open house, Campbell said that “community and connection” – vital aspects of GCASA’s mission to provide comprehensive services at all stages of substance use disorder – are what turned her life around.

“I can tell you that back in 1989, when someone reached into that gutter and picked me up, and gave me that message of hope, and that compassion and treating me like a human being, I was able to go from being homeless street kid to having three master's degrees, being a professor, and being a director and having an extraordinary career,” she said. “And that's not to brag— there's millions of people just like me — who get the care and compassion that they need.”

She then turned to GCASA Executive Director John Bennett, commending his team as having “some of the most heart-warming, heart-feeling” people on it.

“When someone's in pain, and they look in someone's eyes, they know when that care is there,” she said, “and they know when that connection is there, that compassion -- and that makes all the difference.”

Campbell said hundreds of thousands of people are dying from drug overdose.

“I get the calls from the mothers and fathers on the phone desperately begging for help for their loved ones. I get people who can't get access to the medication and who are incapable and don't know where to go,” she said. “I also get the follow up calls from people who say, ‘If you hadn’t helped, I would be dead today.'”

She said it’s “the heroic folks,” such as the people at GCASA, that are making a difference.

“Talk about essential workers, you guys are saving lives,” she said. “And each life that you save is someone who gets to go back into their community, take care of their kids, be a productive member and pay their taxes.”

Bennett Expresses Thanks to OASAS

bennett_1.jpgBennett (photo at right) shared the circumstances that ignited the project around five years ago, citing statistics showing that Genesee County had one of the highest opioid overdose rates in the state at 37 deaths per 100,000 people.

He said that Rob Kent, lead counsel for OASAS at the time, was instrumental in getting the funding for the two-story, 20-bed facility.

“I went to him and said that rural communities just don’t have the services that we need and we have just as many problems in our rural communities, but we just lack the depth that some of the urban communities have in place,” Bennett said. “We have 3 ½ acres here, and could you help me build services that meet the demand that we have in our community?”

Bennett said GCASA received a grant in 2018, but the pandemic put the project on hold until last year. Previously, the agency constructed a methadone clinic across the parking lot on the campus.

“We’re incredibly indebted and thankful to OASAS,” Bennett said.

Speaking from the experience of seeing the negative effects of alcohol abuse years ago in his family, Bennett said he foresees the detox center as a starting point toward ending generational cycles of substance use disorder.

“There weren’t services like this back then to help families, and then what happens is it just goes on for generations and generations. I just want the community and the staff who are going to be working here to know that everything you do – every person who walks through this front door – you’re going to impact their life.”

Bennett sees the detox center as a “building of hope – a wonderful place for people to start their recovery.”

“It’s going to be a place of hope and, hopefully, a place where people can break the cycle of addiction for themselves and their families as the start the beginning of their recovery,” he said.

He also credited the Orchard Park architectural firm of Fontanese Folts Aubrecht Ernst for designing a building that fits with the campus’ historic theme.

“They’ve actually done the last four or five projects for us, and they do a wonderful job in keeping with the historic nature of some of our buildings,” he said. “As you can see, the outside of this building is in keeping with the Atwater House (Community Residence).”

The official opening of the detox center is yet to determined.

Others speakers were Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, GCASA Board Finance Chair Fred Rarick and OASAS Regional Director Colleen Mance.

-- Stephen Hawley presented a certificate of merit to GCASA, thanking the agency for its efforts because substance abuse and addiction “has not gone away as a result of this (COVID-19) pandemic.

“I’m sure that it’s grown more dire,” he said. “The challenges we faced in our lives because of the pandemic have had an especially harsh impact on folks in recovery and those who support them -- all of you here today.

“With circumstances changing constantly in this fight, it’s critical that we remain persistent in our work to raise awareness of ongoing substance abuse and help those who are affected by it.

“This facility will give hope to hundreds of folks struggling with substance abuse over the course of the upcoming years, and I’m certain that it will help save many lives.”

-- Colleen Mance emphasized the importance in affording everyone “the same opportunity to access treatment and a continuum of care.”

“Congratulations to GCASA on this new milestone. I know it’ll be a huge success and we looked forward to the benefits that this will bring to Genesee County and the surrounding area,” she said.

-- Fred Rarick, a defense attorney, noted that many of his clients have families and friends who are affected by substance use disorder.

“You can have one individual in a family ... who has substance abuse issues and that impacts the entire family. It impacts their children who, many times, follow in the footsteps of their parents to become involved in the criminal justice system.

“(GCASA) is on the front lines of what we want to accomplish, and together we can all do it … I think it has come a long way from some of the initial programs. When people take advantage of these programs, they’re less inclined to be out on the streets, committing crimes.”

gcasa_ribbon_cutting_.jpg

From left, Colleen Mance, OASAS regional director; Randi Johnson, detox center physician's assistant; Stephanie Campbell, NYS Behavioral Health Ombudsman Office director; Allison Parry-Gurak, GCASA director of Residential Services; John Bennett, GCASA executive director; Fred Rarick, GCASA board finance chair; Assemblyman Stephen Hawley; Kathy Hodgins, GCASA chief clinical officer; City Council members Tammy Schmidt and Eugene Jankowski Jr.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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Bennett conducting a tour of the new detox center. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 15, 2021 - 11:20am

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).

June 29, 2021 - 12:26pm

Press release:

The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) and New York State Education Department (NYSED) today (June 29) announced the opportunity for school districts across New York State to participate in the Youth Development Survey (YDS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).

The YDS will assess substance-related risk and protective factors of students in grades seven-12 regarding underage drinking, substance use, and problem gambling.

The YRBS measures ninth-12th grade students’ strengths and risks related to unintentional injuries and violence, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, dietary behaviors, physical activity, sexual behaviors, obesity and weight control and other health topics.

“We have a responsibility to keep our kids safe, and New York is focused on engaging with young people to assess substance-related health risks,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Youth Development Survey directly engages students, and will help schools and communities target their services and prevention methods to combat these risks.”

OASAS and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) monitor student risk factors that impact health, safety, and academic success through voluntary student surveys. This information allows both agencies to identify student health and prevention needs and develop resources to help reduce and prevent future and current behavioral health issues.

OASAS will work with International Survey Associates (ISA), a national youth survey organization, to conduct the survey in November. ISA will process and analyze the results and provide district-specific estimates of substance use and risk, as well as potential protective factors to address these risks. The reports are designed to enable districts to determine how their students compare to the surrounding area, as well as the rest of the state.

NYSED contracts with its technical assistance center, the NYS Center for School Health (NYSCSH), to administer the YRBS to 30 high schools randomly selected by the CDC. The schools selected will be notified in August. Only one to four classes in the selected high schools take the survey, which provides both New York State and National YRBS trend data.

District participation is voluntary and free of charge, and OASAS and NYSED will be reaching out directly to superintendents to solicit participation in the survey.

Districts are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to assess the behaviors of New York’s youth in order to implement policies geared toward improving the health of students and reducing the chances that they will engage in risky behavior.

In addition, the youth population data collected through the surveys will enable the agencies to better evaluate and monitor state-funded local community and school-based prevention efforts.

“These surveys provide an excellent opportunity to assess the most critical needs of children in school districts across New York State, and will allow us to target our services where they are needed most,” OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said. “I urge all districts to participate and help us determine the risks and challenges they are facing, and the best ways to address these issues.”

“A comprehensive and coordinated approach with students, families, schools and communities is so important in helping our youth with decision making,” Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said. “If information from these surveys can help even one student, it’s worth it for districts to take part.”

“This year has seen increased stress, anxiety and trauma for our students and families and now, more than ever, we must help our children avoid harmful behaviors any way we can,” State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said. “I encourage districts to participate in these important surveys to ensure they receive the proper resources to support students in making good choices.”

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). 

Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, residential or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov or through the NYS OASAS website.

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