Friday, May 29, 2009

GCASA's Annual meeting was held on May 27 along with the Stop DWI Poster Contest Winner luncheon

On Thursday, May 28, 2009, Pam LaGrou, GCASA's Director of Communications and Development sent this email to all staff at GCASA. I think it may have wider interest so I am posting here.

Hello - Yesterday was the Annual Meeting of the GCASA Board of Directors followed by the Annual Poster Contest Luncheon and Awards. Two board members are leaving our board, Sue Schuler and Carolyn Bova. Sue served as president of the board for two years, she has been an active member of the Awards Dinner Committee and Finance Committee. Carolyn served on the Personnel Committee and was a presenter at the Annual Awards Dinner. Both have provided countless volunteer hours to our organization and will be missed. Joyce Falco is a new board member. She is a counselor at Genesee County Mental Health Clinic and was employed by GCASA several years ago.

Thanks to the many staff who were able to get out of your office and attend the Annual Poster Contest Luncheon. Like the Annual Awards Dinner, your presence and support is very meaningful to the “winners” and their families. The grand prize winners, one from Genesee County and one from Orleans County will see their winning design on a billboard in their respective county.
Have a great day,

To see the DWI Poster contest winners click here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Flying while drunk

Associated Press reported on May 21, 2009:

LONDON – American Airlines says one of its pilots failed a breathalyzer test at London's Heathrow airport.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline says the pilot was given the test Wednesday after airport security staff alerted police.

He was supposed to operate a flight with 204 passengers to Chicago. The flight was delayed while a replacement was found and the plane eventually took off.

American declined to release the pilot's name Thursday.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Are You As Smart As A Behavioral Health Professional? - Time of day of DWI crashes

Question: At what times of the day do most of fatal crashes occur that involve alcohol?

Possible answer:

A: During the day

B: During the night

C: Not much difference between day or night

D: At night

For the correct answer click on comments.

This is article #36 in a series on Are You As Smart As A Substance Abuse Professional?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gambling addiction in New Mexico afflicts 40,000 people

Gambling addiction in New Mexico = 40,000 people.

Video lasts 1:52

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Drugs kill at Hobart in Geneva, NY

From the Democrat and Chronicle on May 15, 2009

Two Hobart and William Smith Colleges students who supplied alcohol to underage drinkers at a party where a student died are facing a possible one-year sentence.

Bradley T. Hester, 22, and Matthew T. Smalley, 23, both pleaded guilty to first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child in Geneva City Court Thursday. Judge Elisabeth Toole scheduled sentencing for Aug. 6.

Hester and Smalley, both senior lacrosse players at the school, live at 9 Cortland St., Geneva, where they hosted a party for the team on Jan. 30. Hester is from Haymarket, Va. Smalley is from Cumberland, R.I.

Warren Kimber IV, 20, of Summit, N.J., a member of the team, was found dead in Smalley's bedroom at the house on Jan. 31. Kimber died from a combination of alcohol and the pain killer oxycodone. Kimber's blood-alcohol content was 0.29 percent.

There have been 2 college students in the Rochester area who have killed themselves in 2009 so far from alcohol overdoses.

These unnecessary deaths are one of the reasons that GCASA Supports 21 and is opposed to lowering the drinking age. Some of us who daily witness the death, injury, destruction, assault, rape, and ruined lives, jokingly say that the legal drinking age should be raised to 35.

This is article #19 in a series on Drugs Kill.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tao Te Ching - Step back

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

The beauty of the Tao Te Ching is its simplicity, its succinctness. The Tao, after 2,500 years still nails things. No baloney, no hyperbole, no santimonious nonsense. The tao just comes straight out and lays it on you.

The problem which human beings have to stuggle with is a sense of deprivation and inadequacy. It's the original sin. This sense of deprivation and inadequacy leads us to greediness, and the attempt to fill the hole in our souls, and as the Tao so simply points out, it doesn't work. We are bottomless pits.

The Tao's advice?

Very simple: step back. Step back. Step back.

Lighten up.

Let it go.


Take it easy.

Laugh it off.

Rise above it.

One day at a time.

Slow down.

Less is more.


Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. This includes ourselves.

I'm OK and you're OK.

Or perhaps better put: "I'm not OK and you're not OK, but that's OK.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Satellites contribute to excellent service delivery in rural counties and GCASA leads the way.

For a rural substance abuse agency in Western New York State, GCASA is very innovative and has done many innovative things. These things are not rocket science, but they do add up to excellent service delivery.

Serving Genesee and Orleans Counties with a combined population of 100,000 people transportation becomes a major barrier for people in accessing outpatient services especially when they may have lost driver's licenses because of DWIs.

Over the last 10 years GCASA has embarked on developing satellite clinics at the western and eastern perimeters of both counties. In addition to the main clinic in Batavia in Genesee county, GCASA also operates a satellite clinic which is celebrating its 10 year this month, May, 2009 in LeRoy, and another satellite in Indian Falls.

Likewise, GCASA operates two satellites in addition to its main Orleans County clinic in Albion in Holley and in Medina.

In 2008 these satellites produced the following units of service:

LeRoy = 1,429
Indian Falls = 761
Medina = 703
Holley = 520

All the satellites covered their own expenses except Holley which came close.

Staff who operate in the satellites have to work very independently registering clients, providing clinical services, making the coffee, turning on the heat and lights, etc.

GCASA has excellent counselors in its satellites with Bill Preston in LeRoy, Jim Garber in Indian Falls, Bill Carpenter and now Mike Wright in Medina, and Alan Nersinger in Holley.

The Assistant Director for Treatment in charge of satellites in Genesee County is John Walker and in Orleans County is Kathy Hodgins.

GCASA strives to provide excellent care to its service area and its ability to take services to clients in rural areas is outstanding. We know of no other agency in New York State who has the service delivery strategy as fully developed as GCASA does.

GCASA is proud of its accomplishments and its staff who make it happen.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Free Book Of The Week - From Binge To Blackout

The Free book of the week is From Binge To Black Out by Chris Volkmann and Toren Volkmann. You can read more about it by clicking here.

If you would like a copy, send me your name and address to There are limited quanities so books are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

This is article #5 in a series on Free Books.

More than 10% of kids in U.S. living with parent with substance abuse problem

The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR)at the University of Maryland reported this week, May 11, 2009 on data collected by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health that 11.9% of children in the United States live with a parent who has abused or was dependent on alcohol or an illicit drug in the last year. The younger the child the more likely the child is to be living with a parent with the disease, 14% for kids younger than 3 to 10% for kids 12 - 17.

Those of us in the field who are knowledgable have observed for a long time that the alcohol and drug problem doesn't start with kids but with their parents. How can a parent abusing or dependent on drugs themselves properly parent a child?

This data validates the idea that substance abuse is, indeed, a family disease. GCASA will be developing programming increasinly to deal with this systemic phenomenon.

Click on image for easier reading.

This is article #10 in a series on Substance Abuse The Family Disease.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

GCASA's LeRoy satellite open and successful for 10 years thanks to Bill Preston, CASAC

Every now and then people come along in your life that you are glad you know and happy to be associated with. Bill Preston, CASAC is one of those people for me.

Bill has been the primary staff person at GCASA's LeRoy clinic for the last 10 years. He has help from other GCASA staff when he has been sick, on vacation, or called away for other obligations, but for the most part, the LeRoy office of GCASA is Bill Preston.

His clients not only like him, they get better. If people are cynical about substance abuse treatment or have had a bad experience, they have not met and worked with Bill.

The LeRoy office has been open now for 10 years and Bill has touched a lot of lives. Agencies, as organizations, have a life of their own, but they are only as good as their people and GCASA has the best.

Click on the image to enlarge for easier reading.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Problems in the field - Working with people with co-occuring disorders

Today, I am starting a new series of articles on the GCASA Cares blog entitled, Problems In The Field. These are issues which cause systemic problems for providers and others.

I am interested in comments about these issues locally, across New York State, and across the country.

The first issue which is a problem in the field is the lack of access to Mental Health Care for people with addiction problems.

While the policy makers pay lip service to co-ordinated care and, as professionals, we know that clients get better outcomes when both disorders are treated concurrently, we find here at GCASA that the waiting lists for mental health care in both counties are over two months long in our county mental health clinics.

There are many reasons for this dearth of services, but there appears to be two primary reasons: lack of trained staff and no money. No money is a primary reason for the lack of trained staff. While a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 10 years experience can expect to make $35,000.00 in a county clinic, a nurse or a teacher with comparable education and experience, can expect to make a little short of twice that much with better benefits and more vacation.

Reimbursement rates are pitiful now and payors are planning on making reimbursement even more stingy and difficult. Consequently, patients and the treatment system suffers.

The answers?

Better pay for qualified staff who are more willing to work with difficult patients.

Higher reimbursement rates for patients suffering from co-morbid disorders who are more difficult to treat.

Payors and policy makers often ignore the clinical realities of working with such patients placing increasingly difficult regulations and requirements micro-managing service delivery to the point that no self respecting professional finds that working in such a system is professionally satisfying and fulfilling.

The problems in working with people with co-occurring disorders are enormous and I don't see any enlightened policies on the horizon which will make things better any time soon.

Leave your ideas and comments.

This is article #1 in a series on Problems In The Field.

Free books of the week extend GCASA's reach

Since GCASA Cares has been offering a free book of the week it has received requests from Long Island, New York, and over the weekend from Jackson, Mississippi.

I appreciate the readers from around the country who read GCASA Cares.

So far we have been able to honor the requests for free books which are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

Sometimes, there are only single copies and other times we may have 2 or 3.

To receive your free book, send you name and address and the book you are requesting to

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tobacco rots your body

Video lasts 0:31

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Breweries and distilleries make millions on underage drinking

According to an article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol published in 2006 and written by Miller, TR, Levy, DT, Spicer, RS & Talyor, DM entitled "Societal Costs of underage drinking" in 2005 16.5 % of all alcohol sold in New York State was consumed by underage drinkers. Out of a total of 1.7 billion in alcohol sales, this accounts for $834 million which breweries and distillers made on underage drinking in New York State.
Is it any wonder that beef and alcohol advertisements are made with youth in mind?

I call it "the insidious assault on our youth".

What in the world is drinkability?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Some municipalities care about their kids. Niskyuna sets the example for others.

It is great to see that Niskyuna, NY in Northeast Schenectady County by Albany, NY in the center of New York State, cares about its kids. Does your muncipality care about the health of its kids and has taken public health steps to protect them from second hand smoke?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 10,2009 marks the 10th anniversary of GCASA's Satellite clinic in LeRoy.

May 10th marks the 10 year anniversary of GCASA’s LeRoy Satellite Clinic. The clinic is housed at 5 East Main Street, LeRoy in the First Baptist Church. Bill Preston is the counselor at the satellite and has been there since the doors opened 10 years ago. Since its inception, the clinic (mainly Bill) boasts 342 intakes and 9,482 units of service.

When you see Bill, be sure to congratulate him.

Smoke Free Now recognizes people and organizations who have helped make Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties healthier and happier.

Nationally known anti-tobacco activist, Rick Stoddard, spoke in Genesee and Orleans Counties last Wednesday, April 29th, 2009. He was sponsored by Smoke Free NOW. You can read more about his appearance in the Daily News by clicking here.

Smoking prevalence rates have dropped significantly in New York State in the last 10 years which saves many lives. While increasing taxes and restricting smoking areas has been very controversial, there is no question that public health has improved. GCASA is proud to be the host agency for Smoke Free NOW and to recognize all those who have found for a healthier, more enjoyable community which is smoke free.
For more information about Smoke Free Now contact Chris Lewis at 585-815-1871 or

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good work done by students in sprucing up community

Kevin Keenan and his kids who belong to SUPA, Students United for Positive Action got some good press on Monday, May, 4, 2009, in the Daily News. The article highlights the good work of Chris Laird and Tevin Bloom who spent Saturday, May 2, 2009 helping to clean up Pringle Park in Batavia, NY.

Kevin Keenan, a GCASA prevention educator works with kids to get involved in positive activities as an alternative to a substance abusing life style. Building up the positive factors in a community goes a long way in decreasing the risk factors in a community.

If you see Kevin and the students who work with him, thank them for their great work in making our community more enjoyable and healthy for all.

To read the whole article click here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Substance abuse the family disease - blaming the kids

Claudia Black writes in her book, "It will never happen to me", on page 5:

"While one of the clear indicators for a smoothly working family is consistency, the words which best describe living in an alcoholic family are inconsistency and unpredictability. It is my belief that what a spouse or child does while living in an alcoholic environment, they do because at the time it makes sense to them. As the problems surrounding alcoholism cause more and more inconsistency and unpredictability in the home, the behavior of the nonalcoholic family members typically becomes an attempt to restabilize the family system. Members of this family system act and react in manners which make life easier and less painful for them."

As a family counselor I observe this phenomenon all the time. The child get identified as the one having problems and gets referred. The child's grades are dropping. The child is disruptive in school. The child is not coming home at the appointed time. Chores are not getting done. The child is becoming more defiant.

The child becomes the symptom bearer for the family. The child becomes identified as the problem. The child becomes twice victimized: once by the alcoholic family, and second by the authority figures who identify the child as "bad".

As a counselor, I am aware of the injustice and chaos at home. I help the child figure out how he/she can deal with the situation without further victimizing him/herself. Parents are often ashamed and experience fear of being blamed and so they further scapegoat their own child for the problems alcohol is causing in their family.

Alcohol advertisements lie to people. Alcohol does not contribute to the good life, to celebration and good times, it often contributes to misery, degredation, and enormous suffering.

If only the truth were known and appreciated, we would be living in a much better world.

We have substance abuse professionals at GCASA that do understand. We see the damage done every day. We help people understand the cause of their suffering and help them create a better life for themselves.

Breweries and distilleries prey on people and it is the children who suffer the most of all.

This is article #9 in a series on substance abuse a family disease.
Video lasts 0:15.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Teen violence

It may shock you to know that one out of every eleven teens reports being hit or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past twelve months. But why is that, and how can we change it? In "Break The Silence: Stop the Violence," parents talk with teens about developing healthy, respectful relationships before they start dating.

Video lasts 4:14

Break The Silence: Stop The Violence.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

GCASA adds value to communities it serves in many ways

Back on April 1, 2009, Susan Schuler, the President of the GCASA Board Of Directors had a great letter to the editor printed which pointed out the money which GCASA infuses into the local economies of Genesee and Orleans Counties.

Not only does GCASA provide very valuable services which improve the quality of life in our two counties and save taxpayers a great deal of money if substance abuse problems had to handled by other segments of our community, it also employs 100 people who live, work, and spend money on our community.

Here is the letter which appeared in the Daily News on April 1, 2009.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Should people be allowed to drink themselves to death in New York State?

Providing a person with alcohol and allowing them to drink themselves to death appears to be a crime in New York State. At least that's what Livingston County Prosecutor, Thomas Moran, thinks. What do you think?

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.