Combatting the Crisis
In one year, drug overdoses killed more Americans than the entire Vietnam War did.
Nearly all of us know somebody who knows somebody. It doesn’t take long in the North
Country to see you’re either impacted by the scourge or just a couple parts removed.
We’ve learned that addiction to opioids in St. Lawrence and Jefferson County knows no
age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Large and small communities across the North
Country are regularly seeing drug overdoses and deaths. Families are torn apart by the
tragedy afflicting loved ones.
There’s no Silver-Bullet
From training our first responders and law enforcement, to investing in detox facilities,
and eliminating some harmful stigmas, this fight will be a long one that requires the full
spectrum of our attention.
Improve Access to Treatment and Recovery Services
Area hospitals and health care agencies need to be encouraged to provide more crisis
beds and treatment options to insure that addicts can receive treatment when they seek
help. Specialized services like Rose Hill Adolescent Treatment Services in Massena,
the St. Lawrence Addiction Treatment Center in Ogdensburg, Credo Community Center
in Watertown and PIVOT’s Anchor Recovery Center in Jefferson County need additional
resources to expand services. We’re short on detox and rehab facilities in Northern New
York. Our jails often end up as the default detox facility, forcing addicts to commit
crimes IOT receive treatment. We can do better than that; and we should.
Promote Use of Overdose-Reversing Drugs
Chemical dependency clinics and programs in both counties need additional resources
to provide help to families battling addiction. Lifesaving tools like Narcan need to be
made available on a more widespread basis to ensure that it is available to law
enforcement, emergency medical service agencies and community members. More
than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdose in 2016 but those numbers are in
decline in communities that have implemented training, resourcing and education in
Advancing Education and Better Practices for Pain Management
More than 25 million Americans suffer from daily chronic pain and over 2 million of them
are reporting an addiction to opioids. Education for patient and doctor alike is necessary
in the long run to stem the tide of over prescription and better pain management
Better Public Health Surveillance and Law Enforcement
North Country law enforcement agencies need assistance to help reduce the supply of
illegal drugs that is making the existing problem worse. While the epidemic can trace its
origins to prescription drug abuse from the overuse of painkillers like oxycodone,
hydrocodone, vicodin, percoset and other painkillers, it has spiralled out of control as
illegal drug dealers, many with connections to organized criminal gangs, have moved
into North Country communities to supply local dealers. The result has been that many
addicts are now buying illegal drugs because they can buy heroin for far less than it
costs to buy prescription drugs. While no one believes we can arrest our way out of this
crisis, we can reduce the supply by cracking down on criminal enterprises that are
bringing heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs like fentanyl into Northern New York.
Last year, Operation Gravy Train, a major investigation by the New York State
Organized Crime Task Force and St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force, showed the
extent of organized crimes influence on illegal drug sales in St. Lawrence and Jefferson
County. The statewide investigation resulted in 106 arrests of drug dealers who were
bringing heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and other illegal drugs into the the North Country from
criminal conspiracies located in Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, the Bronx in New York
City, and Jersey City and Newark in New Jersey. The 11-month investigation showed
that large quantities of illegal drugs were being distributed in communities like
Watertown, Pamelia, Philadelphia, Ogdensburg, Massena, Canton, Potsdam,
Gouverneur, Rensselaer Falls, Pitcairn, Harrisville, Heuvelton, DeKalb Junction, Tupper
Lake, Oswegatchie, Norwood, Edwards, Norfolk, Waddington, Winthrop and Madrid.
The investigation resulted in seizures of 2,600 bags of heroin, 3,005 bags of fentanyl
and 700 bags of cocaine.
Drug dealers are often dealing out a life sentence of addiction or a death sentence
when they’re selling opioids to people in our community. It's now the State Legislature’s
job to ensure the criminal justice system is focused on locking away those drug dealers
and ensuring they get the message they aren’t welcome in Northern New York.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and doesn’t know where to turn,
call 315-482-9445 for PIVOT in Jefferson County or (315) 386-2189 in St. Lawrence
Our Law Enforcement relies on the public to let them know what’s going on. If you see
something, report it:
Jefferson County Tip Line: 315-785-9555
St. Lawrence County Tip Line: 1-800-287-3784