As local community service providers prepare to celebrate this month those in recovery from alcohol or substance addictions, they simultaneously worry about many local residents who have not sought help for their disease.
A Sept. 19 awards breakfast at the Ramada Inn will honor local providers for their efforts in spreading awareness, education and information to people about addiction, and people in recovery are invited to a 1-mile celebration walk the following day at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
But with celebration of National Recovery Month 2013 also comes the realization that some north country youths and adults continue to use and/or abuse alcohol or other substances regularly.
Addictions, and alcohol/substance use and mental health and behavior problems are so prevalent in our society, not just nationally, but locally in Jefferson County, said Anita K. Seefried-Brown, director of community prevention at the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County and a member of the countys Rapid Response Coalition.
The local crisis is alarming, she said, because the 2012 Jefferson County Prevention Needs Assessment survey of 704 sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12-grade students representing all schools in Jefferson County noted that 48 percent, or 338 students, said they use alcohol on a regular basis; 183 use marijuana; 127 use prescription drugs, and 120 use cigarettes. More shockingly, Ms. Seefried-Brown said, is that 0.6 percent, or 42 students, said they regularly use heroin.
Both use and abuse of prescription drugs that are not prescribed to the user is one of the fastest growing problems here, she said. To help decrease those instances, Ms. Seefried-Brown said, she encourages people to drop off their outdated prescription drugs in the medication drop box at the Public Safety Building, 753 Waterman Drive.
Another effective treatment method, she said, is services provided by agencies such as the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County, Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions and Samaritan Medical Center Behavioral Health. Because of the continued dedication of treatment providers, the Sept. 19 awards breakfast will highlight four people/agencies that have helped people in their treatment of alcohol or substance addictions. Credo Executive Director James P. Scordo and Canice L. Fitzgerald, director of outpatient addiction services at Samaritan Medical Center, were not immediately available for comment. The following awards will be given:
■ Public Servant Award to Kathy Murphy, upstate district director of the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, for demonstrating initiative, foresight and active participation in her official capacity and advocating for community investment in the support of treatment
■ Gerald A. DeGroot Award to Salvatore J. Ciulo, Bridge Program director at the Watertown Urban Mission, for promoting awareness of substance abuse in the community
■ Community Service Award to North Country Childrens Clinic, which is given to an organization, business or industry in recognition of its contributions to the field of alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment
■ Marsala/Wertman Award to Lloyd J. Hurlbut Jr., of Credo, for his efforts in helping people along their treatment/recovery journey.
People interested in attending the breakfast, at a cost of $13 per person, can call the Alcohol and Substance Abue Council at 788-4660.