Friday, October 31, 2008

Teen pregnancies are up in Orleans County

Teen pregancies are up in Orleans County in 2006, the last year for which the data is available, for the first time since 2002.

In 2006 there were 33 pregnancies in the county among 10-17 year olds. Of the 33 pregancies 18 resulted in live births, 14 in abortions, and 1 in a miscarriage.

These are the highest rates since 2002 when there were 41 pregnancies, 32 live births, 7 abortions, and 2 miscarriages.

Click on table to enlarge for easier reading.

Here is a table showing the 18 year history of teen pregnancies in Orleans County from 1989 - 2006.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Batavia High School's Everyday Heroes!

Click on image for easier reading.

Batavia High School's Everyday Heroes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Donate to GCASA by doing so on GCASA's web site

GCASA has now made it very easy for donors who would like to support GCASA's mission, make a gift in the name of someone, or make a memorial gift by making a donation to GCASA, to do so on the GCASA web site.

Go to GCASA's web site front page and click on the donation button.

GCASA's web site URL is or you can go there by clicking here.

Thank you for your consideration and support.

Quiting smoking at same time as alcohol brings best outcomes

Reuters HealthDay reported on October 24, 2008 on a study in the current issue of the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research which found that people being treated for alcoholism who also gave us smoking achieved better results. Here is a snippet from the article:

Overcoming alcoholism is tough enough. That's one reason many alcoholics who smoke continue to light up even while they're in recovery from alcohol dependency.

But new research suggests that tackling both addictions simultaneously may offer the best chance of success.

Recovering alcoholics often admit they're using nicotine as a drug, said Dr. Michael M. Miller, president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Alcoholics smoke at rates 4 and 5 times the general population.

Here at GCASA we have been offering smoking cessation treatment for our clients who smoke for the last 3 years. Research shows that about 15% of smokers in substance abuse treament will successfully stop smoking.

You can access the HealthDay article by clicking here.

Erie County Family Court Judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin discusses the role of Social Workers in Family Court

LRodwin The first episode of the University of Buffalo School of Social Work's new podcast series, Living Proof, features Erie County family court judge, the Honorable Lisa Bloch Rodwin, discussing the role of social workers in family court. The podcast is well worthing listening to and you can access it by clicking here.

The podcast lasts 27 minutes.

Today is Red Hot Wednesday!

Stop by 424 West Main Street in Batavia, NY today and help us celebrate Red Hot Wednesday! Get your free hot dog and soda in the tent. Open 11:30 - 1:30.

Dr. Lawrence Shulman discusses models of supervision in the UB School Of Social Work podcast series, "Living Proof"

The University of Buffalo School Of Social Work has an excellent new podcast series entitled, "Living Proof".

On October 20, 2008, Living Proof released its 5th episode which is entitled Dr. Lawrence Shulman: Models of Supervision: Parallel Processes and Honest Relationships. It is execellent and lasts 38 minutes. I highly recommend it to all GCASA supervisors and staff. You can access the show by clicking here.

OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan reports primary substance of abuse at admission

What do you suppose the biggest substance of abuse is in New York State requiring treatment by OASAS licensed programs?

I'll give you a hint. It's legal.

The OASAS plan doesn't get it right. Because the correct answer is tobacco. However, not until this year has OASAS systematically addressed the problem of nicotine addiction.

So, the OASAS plan reports that the primary substance of abuse at admission is alcohol.

No other drug or substance comes even close. The next closest is opiates, then cannabis, and then cocaine and crack, and then other drugs.

Here is a table that outlines the data.

Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.

GCASA's data is very similar although GCASA has been asked to provide service to increasing numbers of people struggling with dependence on opiates. It is expected that opiate addiction will continue to be a growing problem, and GCASA has developed a new Opiate treament program to specifically help manage the problems which opiates cause for people. (To learn more click on the videos on this blog under Cheryle McCann.)
This is article # 9 in a series on the OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan

Buffalo has highest unemployment rate in nation for black males

The Buffalo News reported on October 15, 2008 that Buffalo, NY has the highest unemployment rate in the nation for Black males at 51.4%. Here is a snippet from that article:
When an economics professor in Milwaukee studied the issue of black male unemployment, he found that his city had the second-highest such jobless rate in the nation last year.

Guess who finished first:


The Buffalo metro area topped the list among 35 large American cities with a staggering black male jobless rate of 51.4 percent, according to figures cited by Professor Marc V. Levine of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Milwaukee finished a close second, at 51.1 percent, with Detroit third, St. Louis fourth and Chicago fifth.

“It’s nothing less than a civic outrage to have these levels of joblessness,” Levine said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The study didn’t take Buffalo city officials by surprise.

“I knew there was a high unemployment rate in the black male population, which is why we have worked so hard to enhance the employment environment in Buffalo,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said. “This is an inherited problem, which is decades in the making.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan reviews history of services by sex

In Chapter II of the OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2008-2012 entitled "System Overview" there is a bar chart on page 9 which displays the admissions to OASAS licensed program across New York State by sex. In general about 75% of patients treated for substance abuse problems are male and 25% are female.

In out patient treatment the ratio is 72% male, 28% female, and in residential services it is 77% to 23%.

In 2007, 27% of GCASA's 1,159 admissions were female in its outpatient and residential programs combined which is higher than the state average. I believe the reason for this may be that GCASA has specialized services for women and try to deliver substance abuse services in a gender competent way appreciating the unique differences in needs between males and females.

This is article #8 in a series on the OASAS State Comprehensive Plan 2008 - 2010.

Wednesday is Red Hot Wednesday at GCASA in Batavia, NY

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 is RED HOT WEDNESDAY at GCASA, 424 West Main Street, in Batavia, NY between 11:30 - 1:30 PM. Stop by and get your free hot dog and soda to celebrate Red Ribbon Week.

Demand for food for poor soars in Western New York

Soup kitchen The Buffalo News reported on October 22, 2008 that the demand for food in food pantries and soup kitchens has soared. Here is a snippet from the article:

This year, the dining room has been cooking 1,500 to 2,000 more meals per month than in 2007. It’s one example of a growing appetite for donated food.

The Food Bank of Western New York expects to redistribute more than 12 million pounds of food this year — a nearly 12 percent increase over 2007 — to 204 pantries and soup kitchens in Erie, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Niagara counties.

Salvation Army in Genesee County soliciting applications for Christmas Assistance

There was an article in The Daily News on Monday, October 27, 2008 announcing that the Salvation Army in Genesee County is accepting applications for Christmas Assistance now through November 28, 2008. I was shocked to read that 700-800 applications are expected.

Here is the article that was in The Daily News.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

GCASA has worked closely with the Salvation Army over the years volunteering to provide bell ringers for their kettle drive, arranging for Atwater clients to volunteer at the Salvation Army doing a variety of tasks, and being mutually collaborative in a wide variety of ways. This year GCASA gave the leadership award to Major Leonard Boynton at the Salvation Army for all the good work done in our community.

I am hoping that GCASA employees will support some families this Christmas through the Salvation Army as we did last year.

Monday, October 27, 2008

History of Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon week was started in 1985, 23 years ago, to honor the memory of Enrique Camarena, a DEA agent killed in Mexico in the line of duty.

Here is the history in one page.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Here is the Red Ribbon being distributed by GCASA. If you need some for your family or group call Kevin Keenan at 585-815-1875 or email him at

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 GCASA staff will be at GCC promoting Support 21

Tomorrow, October 28, 2008, GCASA staff will be at GCC from 12:30 - 2:00 PM to promote Support 21. See you at GCC.

Video lasts 4:15

Safe Homes at Tops on Monday, Tonawanda Credit Union on Tuesday in Batavia, NY during Red Ribbon week

Carol Nicometo, one of GCASA's Prevention/Educators, will be at Tops Market in Batavia on Monday, October 27,2008 from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM, providing information and signing families up for the Safe Homes Program.

Tomorrow, October 28, 2008 Carol will be at the Tonawanda Credit Union from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM doing the same thing. Stop by and say "Hello" to Carol.

The Red Ribbion Week Song - So Happy Without Them! (Drugs)

The Red Ribbon Week Song. Video lasts 3:10.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dr. Donahue reviews basic phamacology of alcohol

"Dr. Donahue" a regular health column in syndication in various newspapers across United States is printed daily in The Daily News. On Thursday, 10/23/08, Dr. Donahue answers some basic questions about the pharmacology of alcohol. It is worth reading and if you already are familiar with the information, reviewing.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

This is article #5 on the pharmacology of medications and other substances

Friday, October 24, 2008

Drunk driving kills someone in the United States every 31 minutes. It is the most lethal form of domestic terrorism.

From WITN, a TV station in North Carolina:

North Carolina is the 8th highest rated state for alcohol related crashes.

It can be hard to know when enough is enough and with the warmer weather comes more picnics, games and social events with alcohol.

Every 31 minutes an alcohol related crash kills someone, and the Centers for Disease Control adds every 2 minutes, someone suffers a nonfatal injury because of it. It's one reason police nationwide have cracked down on drunk driving over the past decade. Despite those statistics, police hear all kinds of stories from motorists who are drinking and driving and get pulled over.

There are countless stories of grieving families who've lost someone in an alcohol related accident, and thousands of stories from the people who've caused them about the guilt. The story of how they got there varies of course but what all people who've been convicted of a DWI share is the fact they consumed more alcohol than the legal limit allows.

So how does a situation go from casual drinking to landing a person in jail?

Coleman said, "That's the DWI joke, everyone's only had two beers and been convicted, well that's untrue if they're BAC which is .08 in a hour limit, they've had a lot more than 2 beers, depending on the body weight they've at least had 5 or 6 before they reach that level on the average persons size."

Coleman's advice, designate a driver who won't drink or take a cab, it's information you've likely heard before that will save your license and lives.

Sgt. Coleman also says a big problem he and other Troopers have seen in the past few years is people taking prescription drugs and drinking and driving. He says, the combination can impair someone as if they had been drinking more than the legal limit and that person can be convicted with a D.W.I.

Video lasts 3:16

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Strict Societies May Foster Violent Drinking Cultures

Science Daily reported on October 2, 2008 on a report from the International Center For Alcohol Policies (ICAP) which reports on studies on alcohol and violence. Here is a snippet from the Science Daily report:

Countries with strict social rules and behavioral etiquette such as the United Kingdom may foster drinking cultures characterized by unruly or bad behavior, according to a new report on alcohol and violence released today by International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP). The report lists 11 cultural features that may predict levels of violence such as homicide and spousal abuse.


Violence-reinforcing cultures tend to share the following features:

Cultural support (in media, norms, icons, myths, and so on) for aggression and aggressive solutions;

Militaristic readiness and participation in wars—societies that are frequently at war have consistently higher rates of interpersonal violence as well;

Glorification of fighters;

Violent sports;

Corporal and capital punishment;

Socialization of male children toward aggression;

Belief in malevolent magic;

Conspicuous inequality in wealth;

A higher than normal proportion of young males in the society;

Strong codes of male honor—in general, societies and subgroups that actively subscribe to strong codes of honor tend to have higher rates of homicide;

A culture of male domination.

In her paper, “Sociocultural Factors that Foster or Inhibit Alcohol-related Violence,” Dr. Fox argues that efforts to counteract a “culture of violence” and “the male propensity for aggression” should be channeled toward altering “beliefs about alcohol” and “social responses to violence and aggression.”

Dr. Fox seems to be describing the United States to the T with the exception of higher proportion of young males in the society.

The United States is heavily militaristic, glorifies violence, has an all voluntary, mercenary warrior class, and is the lone first world country with the death penalty.

The United States has 17,000 drunk driving deaths per year and shrugs it off as the price to pay for a glamorization of a drinking culture which associates alcohol with sports, partying, and gratuitous sex.

We pay little attention to the cultural messages sent to young people daily in our advertising culture which says that the way to have a good time is to drink beer and alcohol.

You can access the Science Daily article by clicking here.

Red Ribbon Week Activities 2008

There are a lot of great activities throughout the week for various groups and people from 10/18/08 - 10/31/08.

I especially call to your attention the Red Ribbon walk on Saturday, 10/25/08, starting at the Batavia City Centre Mall at 1:00 PM, and Red Hot Wednesday when you can get a free pop and hot dog(s) under the tent in front of Atwater Community Residence at 424 East Main Street, Batavia, between 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM. Who said "There's no such things as a free lunch!?" Indeed there is to celebrate Red Ribbon week in memory of Enrique Camarena, the DEA agent killed in the line of duty in Mexico in 1985.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Video lasts 1:41


Video lasts 2:24

I am addicted to Ambien. (Caution - some language may be objectionable to some people) Video lasts 5:36

This is article #4 on the Pharmacology of medications and other substances

Communities with Drug Free Community Coalitions like Genesee County and Orleans County have lower incidence and prevalence of substance abuse problems

Join Together Online reported on September 25, 2008 that Substance abuse is lower in communities that have Drug Free Community coalitions.

A new report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) says that alcohol, tobacco and other drug use rates were lower than national averages in cities and towns with coalitions funded by the Drug Free Communities (DFC) program.

Annual youth marijuana, alcohol and tobacco use in DFC communities was 9.9 percent, 23.3 percent, and 10 percent lower, respectively, than the national average for use of these substances. Trends in current use among DFC communities were compared with national data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.

The report also found that youth drug use declined more rapidly in communities with DFC coalitions than the national average.

Tom Talbot, the Director of GCASA's Prevention Resource Center describes the work of the Center at the Orleans Against Substance Abuse quarterly meeting at Tillman's Inn in Childs, New York on October 8, 2008. He mentions the above referenced report from the ONDCP in his talk. Video lasts 3:45.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Alprazolam or Xanax

Alprazolam or Xanax is a benzodiazepine which can be helpful in managing anxiety. However with regular usage people quickly can develop a tolerance, require more and more medication to achieve the desired affect, and people become addicted. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is uncomfortable, potentially physically dangerous, and should be done under medical supervision.

Here is a video which lasts about 1:02 about the drug.

Here is a good video about benzodiazepine withdrawal. It lasts 3:24.

This is article #3 in a series on the pharmacology of medications and other substances.

Chris Lewis describes Smoke Free NOW activities in Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties

Chris Lewis, Coordinator of GCASA's Smoke Free NOW program, describes efforts to decrease the use of tobacco at the Orleans United Against Substance Abuse Drug Free Communities quarterly coalition meeting at Tillman's Inn in Childs, NY on October 8, 2008.

Chris Lewis can be reached at 585-815-1871 or

Video lasts 5:43

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Acetaminophin with codeine, Tylenol with codeine

Acetaminophin with codeine or Tylenol with codeine can be a good pain reliever but also can become addicting. If you have teenagers or adults with drug abuse histories in the household, keep this medication in a safe place where it cannot be diverted from the intended patient and use.

Video lasts 1:05

Personal experience with Tylenol with codeine. Video lasts 3:00.

This is article #2 in a series on pharmacology of medications and other substances.

9th annual awards dinner was a grand evening!

The 9th annual awards dinner on Saturday night, October 18, 2008 at GCC was a grand evening with nine people being honored for their work in our community. Here is the article which was in The Daily News on Monday, October 20, 2008.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan provides information on the system overview - People served

In the OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2008-2012, chapter 2 is entitled "System Overview".

In 2007, approximately 258,000 unique individuals were served in OASAS certified programs with the largest number, 164,818 served in outpatient programs while the rest were served in crisis, Methadone, Inpatient and Residential programs.

Here is a graph which depicts the numbers in a graph.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

In 2007, GCASA had 1,057 unique individuals admitted to its outpatient services in addition to clients already being served. In 2007 at GCASA outpatient clinics and satellites served 2,236 unique people with 27,436 treatment visits.

In addition, in 2007 GCASA admitted 102 people to its Atwater and Supportive Living Programs and provided over 14,000 bed days.

GCASA is very efficient and effective in its operation achieving good outcomes, cost efficiently, with good customer satisfaction. GCASA is proud to be a part of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse system of care.

Monday, October 20, 2008

OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan acknowledges that there are significant concerns about healh insurers denial of claims

In the first part of the OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2008-2012 there is a section on public input. It is noted on p. 6 of the plan that there were what the plan describes as "significant concerns" about health insurers denying claims for treatment for insured patients. Here is what the plan says:

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

It certainly has been the experience at GCASA that "managed benefits" have made it very difficult not only for clients to access care but for counselors to develop and implement a service plan without taking into consideration how the needed services will be paid for. Counselors often spend more time brokering benefits with insurance companies than they do providing clinical services for their clients. This type of micro managing of benefits is extremely costly to the system.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Chlamydia Test

Many people with substance abuse problems have concomitant health problems because of the risky behavior they engaged in while using/abusing/addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs.

Substance abuse counselors help clients get assistance in assessing their health status and if indicated follow through with recommended medical and health related treatments.

Prevention staff warn people about the risks of abusing substances and some activities like gambling not only because of the immediate effects of the subtances or behavior on the body but also because of the concomitant problems that can arise because of poor judgment due to disinhibition.

The National Health Service in Great Britain has some great videos. Here is one on how to get tested for Chlamydia. The video lasts 6:29.

The is article #1 in a series on health and substance abuse.

The correlation of work done to meetings

Compliments of Indexed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pharmacology of Oxycontin

Oxycontin has become a huge drug of abuse. It does have its place in pain control if used properly. Here is a brief video lasting 2:33 describing Oxycontin.

This is article #1 in a series on the pharmacology of medications and street drugs.

The tragedy of alcohol abuse

Video is very graphic. Video lasts 3:57.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Easy Does It

Easy Does It is the old A.A. slogan which carries within it profound wisdom.

We tend to be impulsive, compulsive, easily rushed and stressed.

We have to remind ourselves to slow down, take things one step at a time, to be responsive, but not reactive.

This is article #1 in a series on A.A. slogans that work for a high quality life.

For more on Easy Does It click here.

OASAS planning dialogues for Statewide Comprehensive Plan highlight system issues

As part of the needs assessment process which OASAS engaged in to develop its Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2008 - 2012, OASAS held meetings with various providers, county staff people, and constituency groups. 73 people particpated in Albany, NY, and 62 additional people participated in that meeting via video conference from NYC. Another 40 watched the webcast.

The common themes that emerged from these dialogues have been known to the field and to GCASA for years and include topics such as regulatory relief/paperwork reduction, insurance coverage issues, staffing problems and service delivery issues.

It is interesting that a special note is made of low salaries and poor benefits in the field especially when nonprofit salaries are compared to salaries and benefits of county and state employees. GCASA has lost many well qualified and trained staff over the last 5 years on a regular basis to State employment where staff can make much more money and get better benefits.

Here is what it says in part on page 5 of the plan document.

Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Satellite Clinics provide rural communities access to treatment

Rural communities face many challenges in providing quality substance abuse services. Often it is difficult to recruit and keep qualified staff as pay levels are generally higher in urban areas. Community resources to provide other wrap around services are limited, but probably the most significant challenge is insufficient public transportation to meet the needs of a large geographic area.

More than half of the individuals who are need of substance abuse services have limited transportation. They either have no licence and are relying on others to transport them, or they lack a reliable vehicle and/or they only have one vehicle per household. In short, getting to treatment can be a burden for individuals who live in rural communities.

GCASA has advanced the notion that, "if the community can not get to treatment, we will take treatment to the community". Providing services at satellite clinics can help to break down the transportation barrier for individuals who need access to services. GCASA has opened four satellite clinics over the past eight years, which services the most eastern and western portions of Genesee and Orleans counties. According to surveys from referral sources and patients, offering treatment closer to home is one of the single most important reasons patients were able to get the help they needed.

Satellite services are not always cost effective for providers. In most cases, satellites cost agencies more to operate then the revenue they generate. It is about making treatment easy to access and providing the opportunity for many individuals to attend counseling on a more regular bases. Attendance improves dramatically for those individuals who, if satellites did not exist, would be driving over 10 - 20 miles to access treatment. However, if New York State makes deep cuts in services, programs may have to consider closing satellite clinics to offset their budget deficits. In rural communities, this could have a serious impact on access to care and also pose problems for referral sources who require individuals to be involved in treatment programs.

OASAS Prevention Credentialing and Staff Requirements take effect in 2010

On September 26, 2008 OASAS issued a local services bulletin entitled "Prevention Credential and Staffing Requirements".

Here is the stated purpose of the bulletin:

The purpose of this Local Services Bulletin (LSB) is to outline the prevention credential and staffing requirements for Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) funded community and school-based prevention programs. While these new standards do not go into effect until July 2010, all funded prevention providers are encouraged to work toward and demonstrate compliance on a voluntary basis prior to the effective date.

The bulletin goes on to describe the procedure of personel with lapsed CPP and CPS credentials to get re-instated, and the requirements of agencies to have credentailed prevention supervisory staff and a percentage of credentialed prevention staff to meet licensing requlations for program operation by 2010.

GCASA has always been supportive of credentialing for prevention staff and has a number of staff with the credential such as Maryann Bowman, Shannon Ford, and Jim Morasco. Other staff are working toward their credential and GCASA fully supports them in their efforts.

To access the bulletin click here.

Provider feedback to OASAS descibed in OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2008-2012

During the summer of 2007 OASAS staff and consultants contacted all 1,550 OASAS licensed programs in New York State to ask for feedback and input on how the addiction treatment and prevention system could be improved. I (David Markham) was interviewed on the telephone by a consultant and answered her questions as accurately and completely as I was able. Here is a description of that effort in the OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan Report 2008 - 2012.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

This is article #4 on the OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2008-2012

Stimulant ADHD drugs reduce liklihood of teen substance abuse

Reuters HealthDay reported on October 6, 2008 on a study done at Massachusetts General Hospital which found that girls with ADHD who are treated with stimulant drugs such as Ritalin and Aderall have lower rates of substance abuse as teens than kids untreated. This study mirrors a similar study which found the same situation for boys. Here is a snippet from the HealthDay article:

Stimulant treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) significantly cuts the odds that adolescent girls will smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs, a new Massachusetts General Hospital study shows.

The finding parallels previous studies in boys, the team note.

People with ADHD are at significantly increased risk for cigarette smoking and substance abuse. In the past, there were concerns that treatment of ADHD with stimulant drugs such as Ritalin might increase the risk of drug or alcohol abuse.

But in several studies of boys and young men with ADHD, researchers have found that stimulant treatment actually decreases the risk and delays the onset of substance abuse in adolescence. It does not affect the risk of using tobacco, alcohol, or drugs in adulthood, however.

The same researchers set out to see how stimulant treatment for ADHD affects the risk of substance abuse in adolescent girls.

"Girls with ADHD actually tend to get into trouble with substance abuse earlier than do boys with the disorder, so confirming those results was not simply academic," lead researcher Timothy Wilens, director of the Substance Abuse Program in Massachusetts General's Pediatric Psychopharmacology Department, said in a hospital news release.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Western New York and the Finger Lakes region score highest in State for the new ICRC CASAC exam

In June of 2008, the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services adopted the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium's standard for CASAC testing. The new CASAC testing requirements would eliminate the oral exam portion of the test and create a more stringent written exam that would have international reciprocity. The old exam was based on the 12-core functions of substance abuse counseling and the new exam is based on the TAP-21 or the eight practice dimensions and 124 counselor competences.

The first of the new ICRC exams was given on June 14th, 2008. The international pass rate was 71%, 20% above the New York State average of 51%. However, the pass rate for Western NY and the Finger Lakes region was 83%, which is 12% above the international pass rate. The Albany area scored a 71% pass rate and New York City scored a 42% pass rate, bringing down the State average considerably.

Western NY and the Finger lakes region have been leading the pack for many years in terms of producing qualified CASAC's who score well above the state average on the CASAC exam. In this region, we are fortunate to partner with excellent educational institutions which include substance abuse as part of their curriculum and/or provide certificate programs in the area of Chemical dependency. The later, in combination with quality clinical supervision is most likely the difference for this region producing the states highest quality CASAC's. Hats off to Western NY and the Finger Lakes providers for setting the bar high.

Idea Of The Day - Preparation Stage of the Transtheoretical Model

The third stage of the Transtheoretical Model of change is preparation. The person or group is finally moving to the positive side of their ambivalence and asks, "If I were to make this change, how could I do it?"

As this point, the person or group is looking for options and wants to weigh the pros and cons of each option for change available. There are many roads to Rome and many ways to skin a cat as they say, and during preparation the individual or group is making plans for their trip, for their journey.

Preparation requires information, resources, and support. There should be a cautious attitude about not rushing to a quick choice. There is no silver bullet or magic key. What works for one person or group may not work for another. Each strategy should be customized for the unique individual or group. This is not to say that the experience of others who have made a successful change attempt can't be informative and inspiring. Often the examples of others brings increased knowledge, skill, and confidence. Learning from others can be a key component of preparation but copying exactly rarely works and sets people up for failure. The key is using the ideas from others but making them one's own in planning the application.

For more information about the preparation stage of change click here.

The is article #4 in a series on the Transtheoretical Model

Great article in the Daily News on 10/09/08 on the meeting on 10/08 of Orleans United Against Substance Abuse

Orleans United Against Substance Abuse, the drug free communities coalition in Orleans County, got great coverage in The Daily News with an article written by Nicole Coleman. The article appeared in The Daily News on 10/09/08 of the meeting held at Tillman's Inn in Childs, NY on 10/08/08.

Click on images to enlarge for easier reading.

Maryann Bowman, GCASA's Director Of Prevention, welcomes people to Orleans United Against Substance Abuse meeting on 10/08/09 at Tillman's Inn in Childs, NY. Video lasts 7:52

Red Hot Wednesday, October 29th, 2008, 11:30 AM - 01:30 PM

Red hot Wednesday is coming up on October, 29th, 2008 from 11:30 AM to 01:30 PM at 430 East Main Street, Batavia, NY, 14020 the home of GCASA.

Red Hot Wednesday has become an annual event as GCASA celebrates Red Ribbon week to raise consciousness about the destructive impact that abuse of alcohol, drugs, and gambling has on our community.

Come and get your free hot dog(s) and soft drink. Bring your co-workers, friends, and family.

You can print out and cut out the coupon below, but coupons are not necessary to get your free hot dog.

See you there!

OASAS Statewide Comprehensive Plan 2008 - 2012 affirms importance of collaboration across systems

It is affirming to read that OASAS like GCASA believes in cross systems collaboration. GCASA's mission has been for years "to improve community health, reduce stigma towards people with substance abuse disorders, and to work across systems for positive community change."

The third part of GCASA's mission is celebrated every year at the annual awards dinner in the fall where we publically acknowledge our collorative partners and all those who work to improve the quality of life in our communties of Genesee and Orleans. Throughout the year GCASA staff works collaboratively with community partners to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve.

Over many years, GCASA has developed many important partnerships with the criminal justice system, the school system, the health care system, the public welfare system, the faith based community, community nonprofits, youth serving agencies, civic organizations, business, and government.

It is very validating to finally find a state agency, OASAS, which recognizes and supports these collablorations. For too long bureaucracies have been rigid and funding has been rigidly categorical constraining creative partnerships.

Here is what it says about collaboration in the OASAS comprehensive plan on page 3.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

This is article #3 in a series on the OASAS comprehensive plan

57% of pregnant patients in New Jersey report that their doctors didn't tell them to quit smoking

Reuters reported on October 2, 2008 on a study published in the October, 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine which found tht many doctors don't tell their pregnant smoking patients to quit. 57% of patients in New Jersey said that their doctors did not tell them to quit. Here is a snippet from the Reuters article:

Pregnant women who smoke share this information with their health care providers, but as often as not their provider doesn't counsel them on how to quit, new research shows.

"Because counseling only achieves modest quit rates, we've heard anecdotally that physicians are somewhat unwilling to take the time to counsel pregnant smokers," Van T. Tong of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, a researcher on the study, told Reuters Health. "So our results confirmed what we expected."

Smoking during pregnancy can cause a number of problems for mother and child, from preterm delivery to developmental and behavioral problems, Tong and her colleagues note. More than 1 in 10 women who had babies in the US in 2004 said they smoked while they were pregnant.

To better understand how to help pregnant smokers quit, the researchers analyzed 2004 and 2005 data from the New Jersey Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring Program on 4,473 women who had recently given birth.

Among the 16 percent of women in the study who said that they were smokers before they got pregnant, half said they quit before they began receiving prenatal care. Just 5 percent of smokers quit after starting prenatal care, the investigators report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Among the women who were still smoking in late pregnancy, only 11 percent reported trying some type of smoking cessation aid, such as counseling or self-help materials.

Almost all of the study participants said that their health care provider had asked them if they smoked, but just 57 percent said that their provider had counseled them on how to quit.

Counseling is the preferred smoking cessation approach for pregnant women, given the potential risks of nicotine gum or patches, or medications like Zyban, Tong commented.

"However, particularly for heavier smokers (more than a pack a day), the potential benefit of quitting smoking may outweigh the risks of the cessation medication," she added. "Women need to talk with their providers to see what would be the best smoking cessation aid for them."

The results can only be generalized to New Jersey, which has one of the lowest rates of smoking during pregnancy in the US, Tong and her colleagues note, possibly thanks to its extensive tobacco-control policies and programs. "However, even in a state with low prenatal smoking, there is a need for improvement to make sure we get women the help they need to quit smoking," Tong said.

"We need to get more providers to offer it despite their fears that it won't achieve success," she added. "Every woman counts, so if they could counsel and refer every pregnant smoker, that's really our goal."

This article makes me wonder how many substance abuse counselors encourage their clients to quit?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Community Health Expo at Batavia Downs, Friday, 10/17/08

This Friday, October 17, 2008 from 1:30 - 7:30 PM there will be a Health Expo at the Batavia Downs in Batavia, NY.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Community Resource of the Day - Community Action of Orleans and Genesee Counties provide emergency and family development services

Community Action of Orleans and Genesee Counties provide emergency services such as a food pantry, transportation, clothing, and referrals for counseling and other crisis services.

In addition, Community Action also has a family development program which assists struggling families to become more independent and self sufficient.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Community Resources - Genesee County Mental Health Association

The Genesee County Mental Health Association provides many services to people and families struggling with a psychiatric disorder. They provide services to people with co-occuring disorders of substance abuse and mental illness. Here is part of what is on the GCMHA web sire regarding Co-occurring disorders.

MICA stands for Mental Illness/Chemical Addiction, often referred to as “Dually Diagnosed” or “Co-Occurring” Disorders. MICA refers to an individual with a substance abuse problem and a psychiatric illness or diagnosis.

According to Dr. Kennith Minkoff, an expert in MICA treatment, the expectation should be that anyone seeking treatment for chemical abuse/addiction or mental illness has the other as well.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, the percentage of individuals who are dually diagnosed and also have trauma histories is as high as 90%.

Here is some information about the GCMHA Life Bridges Support Group which meets on Thursdays.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Here is the contact information for the Genesee County Mental Health Association.

Contact Us

25 Liberty Street
Batavia, New York 14020

(585) 344-2611

(585) 345-1418


This is article #2 in a series on Community resources.

Extent of addiction problem in New York State

In the beginning of the OASAS comprehensive plan, on page 1, there is description of the extent of the addiction problem in New York.

Here's a little pre-test. See how well you do.

1. How many New Yorker's suffer from a substance abuse disorder or problem gambling?

A. 1 in 3
B. 1 in 20
C. 1 in 50
D. 1 in 7

2. What percentage of the adult population in New York State has a gambling problem?

A. 1 1/2 %
B. 5%
C. 10%
D. over 15%

3. Among teenagers 12 - 17 problem gambling affects:

A. 1 in 4
B. 1 in 7
C. 1 in 10
D. 1 in 17

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

This is article #2 on OASAS comprehensive plan.

Idea Of The Day - Contemplation stage of trantheoretical model

The second stage of change in the transtheoretical model is contemplation. At this point, there is an awareness that there might be a problem. The person/people agree that "maybe yes and maybe no". There is part of them that part of the time acknowledges that there could be a problem, but there is a part of them that part of the time minimizes, procrastinates, wants absolute certainly, wants a silver key or magic bullet, or simply hopes that they will go to sleep and wake up and the problem will have just gone away.

It is not until the person becomes emotionally aroused, fired up, or sees the writing on the wall meaning that change is really in their best interest that the person or people can overcome their ambivalence and move forward.

The therapist must resist the reactive attempt at pre-mature closier because nothing contibutes to worst demoralization than to make a change attempt and fail because the person or people really weren't ready yet. While counter-intuitive restraint of change while encouraging the positive side of the ambivalence can be the most effective therapeutic strategy.

For more information click here.

This is article #3 in a series on the Transtheoretical Model.

Smoking has nothing to do with IQ

Reuters reported on October 1, 2008 on a study in the September, 2008 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine which found that smoking has nothing to do with IQ but seems more influenced by social factors such as socioeconomic circumstances. Here is a snippet from the article:

Smoking may not be the smartest habit in the world, but a person's intelligence has little to do with whether he or she begins smoking or is able to quit, Swedish researchers report.

People in lower socioeconomic levels in the Western world are more likely to be smokers, and slower to kick the habit than their wealthier counterparts, Dr. Tomas Hemmingsson and colleagues write in the medical journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Some have suggested that these individuals may be less intelligent and thus less likely to understand the risks of smoking.

To investigate, Hemmingsson and his team at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm looked at 49,321 Swedish men born between 1949 and 1951 who had undergone IQ tests when they were 18 to 20 years old as part of conscription for military service.

At age 18, the researchers did find a relationship between lower IQ and likelihood of smoking. However, accounting for other factors known to be related to becoming a smoker, such as parental divorce, lower level of education and psychiatric diagnosis, sharply reduced the influence of IQ on smoking behavior -- although it did not eliminate it.

The researchers also found that men with lower IQs were actually at lower risk of being heavy smokers than those with higher IQ scores.

A subgroup of 694 of the men, 373 of whom smoked at age 18, were interviewed again between 1981 and 2002. At the time of follow-up, an average of 18 years later, 180 had quit. A man's IQ at 18 had no relationship with whether or not he had stopped smoking.

The study debunks the theory that people start smoking or don't quit because they have difficulty comprehending how harmful smoking is to one's health, Hemmingsson commented to Reuters Health.

In helping people to quit, he added, "the main issue would not be to explain more deeply what the health consequences are. I think most people understand the health consequences today of smoking."

Factors that are known to be associated with smoking include being a single mother and being unemployed, Hemmingsson noted. "It's other social factors that prevent people probably from stopping smoking rather than that they don't understand the health consequences of this habit."

Monday, October 13, 2008

2008 - 2012 OASAS statewide comprehensive plan issued on October 1, 2008

On October 1, 2008, OASAS issued its 2008-2012 Statewide Comprehensive Plan. You can access it by clicking here.

I will be posting a series of articles on GCASA Cares of nuggets of information which I glean from the report.

This is article #1 on the OASAS comprehensive plan.

Eligible for food stamps? Check it out.

Community Action of Orleans and Genesee Counties offers many valuable services which GCASA's clients may benefit from. I will be posting one new service a day. The first service is food stamps.

This is article #1 on community resources.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Orleans United Against Substance Abuse has meeting on Oct.8, 2008.

Jessica Wasmund wrote an informative article in the Journal Register on October 9,2008 on the breakfast meeting of Orleans United Against Substance Abuse meeting on October 8, 2008 at the Tillman Inn in Childs. Here is a snippet from the article:

Orleans United Against Substance Abuse Coalition had cause for the celebration breakfast held Wednesday morning.

The Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Inc., which operates the Orleans coalition, was meeting to give an update to participating members and agencies on the achievements the organization had earned, including substantial grants to help fund the group.

“For the next five years, $125,000 will be coming into the county,” said Maryann Bowman, GCASA director of prevention. “What does that mean? It means we’ll be able to complete more surveys in school, compile more data, have more compliance checkpoints and expanded media campaigns in addition to expanding the coalition. I know it’s going to grow, because I know it’s been growing for the past couple years with no funding at all. Having this grant means saving lives.”

To access the whole article click here.

Dr. Dan Webb describes evaluation component of Orleans United Against Substance Abuse on 10/08/08

Dr. Dan Webb from Catalyst Research describes the evaluation that his company does for Orleans United Against Substance Abuse at the Coalition meeting on 10/08/08 at Tillman's Inn in Childs, NY.

Video lasts 6:10

New York State Office Of Mental Health releases a new plan for Children and Families in New York State

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Idea Of The Day - Pre-contemplation

Pre-contemplation is the first step of change which is often recognized as denial and minimization. People are not aware that they have a problem or if they recognize it they rationalize it as “not being that bad.” The idea of the pre-contemplation stage of change applies to individuals, families, communities, and nations.

The main defenses people use in pre-contemplation are denial, rationalization and intellectualization, projection, displacement, and internalization.

The biggest mistake helpers make with people in pre-contemplation is pushing them to action. In pushing people in pre-contemplation to change helpers will only provoke resistance. The person or people they are trying to help don’t even recognize yet that there is a problem.

So the first step in working with someone or groups in pre-contemplation is by consciousness raising, by educating them about the nature of the problem. This consciousness raising and education can take many forms. For more information click here.

This is article #2 in the series on the Transtheoretical model.

Nassau County's DWI Hall Of Shame is challenged in court

Long Island's newspaper, Newsday, published an article on October 9, 2008 about Nassau County's Wall Of Shame. Here is a snippet from the article:

One of the defendants on Nassau's drunken driving Wall of Shame has sued the county, demanding that her name and photograph be removed from the online gallery of defendants because it's unconstitutional.

Attorney Brian Griffin of Garden City says that by posting the names and mug shots of people who are arrested on drunken driving charges, County Executive Thomas Suozzi is punishing people who have not yet been found guilty of a crime. Griffin wants his client, Alexandra Bursac, 27, of Plainview, to be removed from the county's Web site immediately. She has pleaded not guilty.

"I don't think you need a law degree to understand that this fundamentally goes against a system of justice in which punishment occurs after you've been found guilty," Griffin said.

Supreme Court Justice William LaMarca is expected to issue a decision on the issue in the next few days.

To see the Wall Of Shame click here.

The Daily News published in Batavia, NY regularly publishes the names of people arrested for DWI.

The Stage Model of Alcoholism

The Disease of Alcoholism

There are, and have been, many theories about alcoholism. The most prevailing theory, and now most commonly accepted, is called the Disease Model.

Its basic tenets are that alcoholism is a disease with recognizable symptoms, causes, and methods of treatment. In addition, there are several stages of the disease which are often described as early, middle, late, treatment and relapse.

While it is not essential to fully define these stages, it is useful to understand them in terms of how the disease presents itself.

This series of articles describes the signs and symptoms of each stage as well as exploring treatment options.

Early or Adaptive Stage
Middle Stage
Late Stage
Treating Alcoholism
Relapse to drinking
1 - The Early or Adaptive Stage of Alcoholism

The early or adaptive stage of alcoholism is marked by increasing tolerance to alcohol and physical adaptations in the body which are largely unseen.

This increased tolerance is marked by the alcoholic’s ability to consume greater quantities of alcohol while appearing to suffer few effects and continuing to function. This tolerance is not created simply because the alcoholic drinks too much but rather because the alcoholic is able to drink great quantities because of physical changes going on inside his or her body.

The early stage is difficult to detect. By appearances, an individual may be able to drink a great deal without becoming intoxicated, having hangovers, or suffering other apparent ill-effects from alcohol. An early stage alcoholic is often indistinguishable from a non-alcoholic who happens to be a fairly heavy drinker.

In the workplace, there is likely to be little or no obvious impact on the alcoholic’s performance or conduct at work. At this stage, the alcoholic is not likely to see any problem with his or her drinking and would scoff at any attempts to indicate that he or she might have a problem. The alcoholic is simply not aware of what is going on in his or her body.

This article is taken from the Alcohol Self Help Web site and you can learn more by clicking here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Idea Of The Day - Transtheoretical Model

The Transtheoretical Model also sometimes called the Stages of Change model developed by Prochaska and DiClemente has been a huge gift to the substance abuse field in helping us assess where people are at in the change process.

The stages as described in the Wikipedia are as follows:

Pre-Contemplation is the stage in which an individual has no intent to change behavior in the near future,usually measured as the next 6 months. Precontemplators are often characterized as resistant or unmotivated and tend to avoid information, discussion, or thought with regard to the targeted health behavior (Prochaska et al., 1992).

Contemplation stage. Individuals in this stage openly state their intent to change within the next 6 months. They are more aware of the benefits of changing, but remain keenly aware of the costs (Prochaska, Redding, & Evers, 1997). Contemplators are often seen as ambivalent to change or as procrastinators (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1984).

Preparation is the stage in which individuals intend to take steps to change, usually within the next month (DiClemente et al., 1991). PR is viewed as a transition rather than stable stage, with individuals intending progress to A in the next 30 days (Grimley, Prochaska, Velicer, Blais, & DiClemente, 1994).

Action stage is one in which an individual has made overt, perceptible lifestyle modifications for fewer than 6 months (Prochaska et al., 1997).

Maintenance: these are working to prevent relapse and consolidate gains secured during A (Prochaska et al., 1992). Maintainers are distinguishable from those in the A stage in that they report the highest levels of self-efficacy and are less frequently tempted to relapse (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1984).

For more information click here.

This is article #1 in a series on the Transtheoretical Model.

Idea Of The Day feature on GCASA Cares blog

Today,Sunday, October 12, 2008, GCASA Cares is starting a new feature on its blog called "Idea Of The Day". Idea of the day will have a short reference to some seminal, important idea which is useful in the substance abuse field in both treatment and prevention. Along with the suggested idea will be at least one reference to further information. If you would like to see a featured topic for "Idea Of The Day", let me know. Also, your comments about the idea are always welcome.

Alcohol and drugs are disinhibiting

The first thing in the human personality that dissolves in alcohol is dignity. -Author Unknown

Alcohol and most illicit drugs are disinhibiting which simply means that people will do things intoxicated they would never do sober.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Earlier the onset of alchol use the more likely there will be later life alcohol problems.

Click on image to enlarge for eaiser reading.

Reuters reported on 09/29/08 on a study report which will appear in the December, 2008 issue of the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental research which found that the earlier a person starts drinking in life the more likely the person will develop a problem with alcohol.

This correlation has been known for some time, but is has been unclear whether this finding is due to an underlying biological predisposition or it is related to life choices. It appears it may be related more to life choices. Here is a snippet from the Reuters article:

People who try alcohol for the first time before age 15 are more likely to become dependent on it, new research shows.

These individuals also run a higher risk of abusing alcohol, report Dr. Deborah A. Dawson and colleagues at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

These problems didn't appear to be rooted in a person's inability to control their drinking, Dawson and her team found, but seemed instead to be due to "willful misuse of alcohol." This suggests, they say, that early drinkers might have "impaired executive cognitive function," or difficulty with tasks requiring them to plan, make decisions, and resist temptation.

There is already evidence that an early start on drinking boosts a person's risk of later problems with alcohol, but research to date has been unable to pin down whether such people simply have an underlying risk of addictive behavior that accounts for both trying alcohol early and developing alcohol problems, the researchers explain in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

You can access the full Reuters article by clicking here.

At GCASA our Prevention department has many programs targeted to decrease underage drinking such Project Alert delivered in the schools, Safe Homes, SUPA, Support 21, ACOA groups, Compliance checks, Tip Line, etc. Underage drinking has decreased somewhat in Genesee and Orleans counties in the last few years because of these prevention efforts.

Video lasts 0:31

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jose Ortiz, CASAC-T, Substance Abuse Counselor at GCASA

Jose Ortiz, CASAC-T, substance abuse counselor at GCASA says he loves his job.

Video lasts 5:37

Thursday, October 9, 2008

When forture knocks...........

"Fortune knocks at every man's door once in a lifetime, but sometimes the man is in the neighborhood saloon and does not hear the knock."

Mark Twain

19% failure rate on alcohol sold to minors compliance check in Orleans County, NY in Spring of 2008.

Corey Black, Investigator for the Orleans County Sheriff's Department, describes the compliance checks the department did in Orleans County, NY between April 24 and May 16, 2008. The checks were done on 52 establishments and 10 failed the check selling alcohol to minors for a non-compliance rate of 19%.

It is against the law to sell alcohol to minors under 21 years of age in New York State.

Video lasts 2:03 and was taken at the Orleans United Against Substance Abuse meeting at Tillman's Inn in Childs, NY on 10/08/08.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Drug taking videos assault teens on YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, etc.

John Walters,Drug Czar, warns parents and teens about drug taking videos. Video lasts 6:27

Ann Flosdorf-Mitchell to present workshop on Eating Disorders in the MICA population on 11/05/08

Ann Flosdorf-Mitchell, LCSW-R, Clinic Coordinator for Orleans County Mental Health Clinic will be presenting a 4 hr. workshop on Wednesday morning, November, 5, 2008 in Batavia, NY entitled "Understanding & Treating Eating Disorders in the MICA/Trauma Client.

Click on image below for easier reading.

Drunkorexia? Video lasts 1:03