The Partnership for Ontario County has been working diligently since 2010 to fight the opiate epidemic in the upstate New York communities. The main focus was in the adolescents and young adult demographic and trying to teach them about the effects and dangers of abusing prescription painkillers and how it will lead to an addiction to heroin. The organization has created a new program called “Partnership for Success.” The new program got a huge lift when it was awarded a $627,000 grant from the New York State Office for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. The grant is to cover a period of about four and a half years.
Partnership for Success was among 10 community coalitions in the state of New York to share the total grant amount of $6.2 million from the federal government. The grant money will be paying for the four year strategic work focused on many different levels and areas. Partnership for Success will focus directly on education of the population of 12-25 year olds. Teaching about the dangers of misusing prescription opiate based painkillers and how it leads to heroin abuse. The community program will work through many steps to reach a productive outcome in fighting the opiate epidemic in Ontario County.
“We are seeing a totally different picture of heroin use than was seen in the 1980s, when it was more of a back-alley thing,” said Petrea Rae, coalition coordinator for Partnership for Success. “This is affecting many people, including those who have had loved ones die or become addicted. They want to see a change in the community.”
Partnership for Success has a little over fifty members. The group is made up of people who work or have been directly affected by the opiate epidemic. Many representatives from law enforcement, education, health care, civic organizations, media, treatment providers and businesses are a part of the coalition.
The group is in the beginning phase of the grant. This phase is focusing on assessment and capacity building. This includes surveying the youth from ages 12-18 in the country school districts. Their goal was to survey 2,000 students and they have already surpassed that number reaching an astounding 3500. Obviously the more surveys that are answered, the better the coalition has an understanding for the work they have cut out for them.
To reach the 18-25 age group, the surveys are being done through an online link or app. It is 100% confidential and a great way to better understand the substance and opiate abuse issue in the community.
On top of surveying the communities youth, they have had a very successful drug take back programs while working with local law enforcement and the they were recently honored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for passing the 10,000 pound total for unused medication collected since 2010. It seems Ontario County is headed in the right direction in working to help combat the opiate epidemic.