Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who says that substance abuse professionals don't have a sense of humor?

What do you get when you use LSD along with birth control pills?

A trip without kids.

Managing people or managing systems?

Management policies and procedures often have unintended consequences. I learned years ago when studying Total Quality Management that you have to be careful what you measure because it will skew organizational behavior in that direction.

GCASA is often asked by all kinds of funders and regulatory bodies to collect data on all kinds of indicators which may have all kinds of ramifications for our service delivery systems. Some of these ramifications can be negative as well as positive.

A good manager is aware of the systemic quality to organizations and knows that a change in one component of the organization often has an effect in another component of the organization. People of more limited awareness often do not understand this and this leads to false accusations, and dysfunctional behavior.

We are seeing this kind of thing develop now as Erie County decreases its subsidies for child care forcing working parents to quit their low paying jobs and go onto welfare because they can't afford the day care.

GCASA employees and clients live in a county with the lowest child care subsidies in the state which makes it very difficult for parents of young children to work and also take care of their children. One of the indicators which GCASA is asked to measure in its client population is how many get back to work when their substance abuse problems are addressed. GCASA will not perform as well as agencies in other counties which provide better day care subsidies to its clients who have young children and want to go back to work.

My point is that there or institutional barriers to the employment goal which are invisible until you look behind the screen and see how the system is stacked against the working poor.

The biggest thing that Genesee County might do it get parents with young children back to work is to provide better day care subsidies. More substance abuse treatment is not going to fix this.

When GCASA had to curtail some of its services because of deficits in its budget one of the cuts was to eliminate the Voc Ed counselor that it had on its staff. It's not that the staff person wasn't doing a good job, it's that the person was having a hard time getting people back to work when the system is designed to block low paid people with children from doing so.

Managers do not just manage people and departments and programs, they manage systems and if they do not have a good understanding of how systems operate they are doomed to failure.

This is article #3 in a series on Lessons In Management.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Terroistis in Lackawana aren't going to kill you, but this guy is

From the Buffalo News on 01/21/10:

While on routine patrol Tuesday night, state police at Clarence clocked a vehicle going 59 mph in a 45-mph zone.

Nothing too unusual there.

Until the troopers ran a blood-alcohol test and accused the driver of recording a level close to four times the state’s legal limit.

The driver recorded a blood-alcohol content of 0.30, troopers reported. Police can charge driving while intoxicated when a driver registers a 0.08 blood-alcohol level.

Thank you to the trooper for keeping us save and getting this fellow off the road before he killed someone.

Friday, January 29, 2010

"I beg to differ with you just a wee bit.."

From Trench Warfare. Posted on 01/26/10.

It's All About Perception


I'm going to have to beg to differ with you just a wee bit.

When you tell me that you've used Lortabs, Xanax, mushrooms, alcohol, and cocaine in the past three weeks, that you're smoking nicotine "all day, every day" and smoking pot nightly....

even when you tell me you haven't been "using excessively" I'm going to say you have been.

Especially when you're 20 weeks pregnant. ->

The police pulled you over and what did you say?

Addiction claims lives: young and old

From Buffalo News on 01/22/10:

Matthew Rybinski’s death puts a human face on heroin addiction and other drug use among young people in Lancaster — and in virtually every local community, suburban or urban.

“I don’t think it’s unique to Lancaster,” said Charles H. Tomaszewski, agent in charge of the Buffalo office of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. “I just think it’s a problem in most suburbs in Western New York and across the country.”

The Erie County medical examiner’s office investigated 64 fatal drug overdoses from Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties in 2009, according to Health Department public information officer Kevin P. Montgomery. Eleven of those 64, including Matthew, were 25 or younger.

GCASA staff deal with these problems every day. Unfortunately, GCASA's resources are stagnant as government and insurance reimbursement has not changed in 10 years. With the Governor's budget reduction act, the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is facing further cuts. When GCASA appealed to OASAS for an increase in it's deficit funding we were told, "Be happy with what you've been getting. There will be no more funding."

Meanwhile, our kids are dying, getting hooked on Prescription Pain Pills and moving on to other narcotics. The Pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars selling products that wind up getting people addicted and when addiction strikes there is very little services to help. We have learned that the "war on drugs" is not the answer because the supply is never ending. The answer is on the demand side in getting people addicted and families into treatment.

It breaks my heart to read stories like Matthew's and yet here at GCASA we have our own, but because of confidentiality they cannot be told. Staff are left to grieve alone having vicariously witnessed the suffering and death to patients and their families which addiction has wrought.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

GCASA's Field Instructors are committed to developing the professionals of tomorrow

Yesterday, Wednesday, 01/27/10, there was an article on this blog about GCASA's high level of commitment to professional education.

In this article I want to share with you the wonderful staff that GCASA employs who act as field instructors:

Mary Beth Pace, L.C.S.W., is GCASA's Mica Counselor and has provided field education for Social Work Students from Buffalo State and University Of Buffalo for many years. This academic year, 2009-2010, Mary Beth has two students one from Brockport and one from UB.

Lynette Lex, M.S. ATR is an art therapist/counselor has supervises art therapy students at a Master's Degree level from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. This year Lynette has one student. She has supervised an art therapy student most years during her employment here of about 10 years.

Sarah Edwards, B.S., CASAC, is supervising one student from Brockport Health Science/Alcoholism Studies program in the Albion Clinic.

Norma Miller, M.S., LMHC is supervising two students one from Keuka College and one from the Brockport Health Sciences/Alcoholism Studies program. Norma is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Women's Specialist in the Batavia Clinic.

Linda Ackley, M.S., CASAC, House Manager at Atwater Community Residence is supervising a student from the Human Services program at Genesee Community College.

Holly Main, L.C.S.W., an adolescent counselor at GCASA is supervising and MSW student from Roberts Wesleyan.

Kathy Hodgins, L.M.S.W., CASAC, and the Assistant Director Of Treatment for Orleans County is supervising a Brockport Student from the Health Science/Alcoholism Program.

Shannon Murphy, CASAC, an Assistant Director of Treatment in Genesee County is supervising a Brockport Student from the Health Sciences/Alcoholism Studies Program.

Maryann Bowman, B.S., CPP, CASAC GCASA's Director of Prevention is supervising 4 students from the Genesee Community College Human Services Program.

As you can see GCASA has very highly qualified and experienced field instructors who contribute to the education of tomorrow's professionals.

Lessons in manangement - It is no mistake to admit your mistakes

The key hallmark of a good professional is that the professional knows what he/she does not know.

This is key because knowing what you don't know means that you can ask for consultation, supervision, and do some research.

Pretending to know what you don't know to save face, to maintain a position of power over the other will get both the professional and the client/patient into trouble.

The same principle applies in management. I like to work with people who know what they don't know and who are not afraid to admit it and are willing to seek input and feedback from others.

I don't like to micro manage people. I don't like to play GOTCHA and catch employees doing something wrong.

It is perfectly Okay to make mistakes. I have made and continue to make plenty. The only thing I ask is that you take responsibility for your mistakes and clean up the mess. Don't blame others and avoid dealing with the consequences. When a mistake is made, the sooner it is recognized and acknowledged, the better. And then developing ways to repair the harm are essential to a high performing person and organization.

So ask your questions, do your best, make your mistakes. Don't assume that others know or that things can be glossed over and gotten away with.

Mistakes are opportunities for improvement, but only if they are recognized, acknowledged, admitted, and explored.

Creating a mistake supporting environment takes great courage, faith, and humility. Unfortunately, not many managers have courage, faith, and humility because organizations function for control, order, predictability, and compliance. These things: control, order, predictability, and compliance with standards are important, but in human activities often are nonexistent, and so how do managers deal with the lack of control, disorder, the unpredictable, and noncompliance?

Good management is as much an art as it is a science. We live in an age when we want "evidence based practice" and "research based practice". We want human service agencies to produce the predicted outcomes and "fix the problems" that people bring to them. Were it that easy.

Ignorance and mistakes abide but they are not the problem. It is the pretense that they don't abide that turns us into shamed snychophants who pretend things are one way when really they are another, who pretend that some things matter because they are under regulatory scrutiny when we know damn well that they don't really matter. We often practice in an Alice in Wonderland world where we pretend that regulatory standards matter to our clients who have no idea why we, as providers, are doing the things we are doing, because it has little to do with their concerns. We wind up treating charts, records, and documents, instead of our clients. We are forced to pretend that we know when we really don't. We are forced to pretend that things are one way when they aren't. We are forced to shove square pegs into round holes or round pegs into square holes and we get crossways with ourselves. We burn ourselves out and can't admit that we don't know what we are doing and our lives seem to have gone to fake and fraud.

I'm here to tell you that it is Okay. Let your supervisor know. If I am your supervisor, I am right there with you. I have no trouble with your shame because I am ashamed to. The systems have embarrassed us because we know we don't measure up, but then neither do our clients and so together we humbly admit our ignorance and mistakes, and rather than shame you will mostly likely get understanding, solace, support, and love.

Good management is really an act of love because none of us is perfect and good managers can accept this and work with it and together we will create an organization which provides high quality services to its clients whom it cares about.

So make all the mistakes you want, just clean up the mess. And if you want help, ask, and if you don't know, question. There is no such thing as a stupid question.

This is article #2 in a series in Lessons on management.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Speaking on the Victim Impact Panel

Last evening, Tuesday, 01/26/10, I talked on the GCASA Victim Impact Panel over at the Batavia City Centre. Sarah, talked on the panel with me about the death of her daugher Lindsey who was killed in Rochester when Lindsey was in her early 20s.

There were about 30 people in the room.

The Victim Impact Panel has met monthly in Batavia for the last 20 years. It serves people from Orleans, Genesee, and Wyoming Counties.

Kathy Seymour spoke on the panel for 17 years every month about the death of her only child, Paul Seymour, killed when he was in his mid-20s back in the late 80s. Kathy, is dead now too. She died about one year ago. Her last year of service on the panel she spoke with her oxygen tank and nasal tubes piping oxygen to her lungs.

As I spoke last night, I wondered whether these panels make a difference? My kids, Ryan aged 8 and Brigid aged 5 were killed in 1993, 16 years ago. If they had lived Brigid would be 22 and Ryan 24.

In 1993, the year that Brigid and Ryan were killed there were 13,739 DWI fatalities in the United States. In 2008, there were 11,773. In the 16 years since Brigid and Ryan were killed, there have been 200,000 DWI fatalities in the United States.

How many people were killed on 9/11? 2,973. Since 9/11 over 100,000 Americans have died from drunk drivers.

As an American, terrorists are not likely to kill you, but a drunk driver is much more likely to kill you. You don't have to be afraid of terrorists as your government tells you. You should be afraid of drunk drivers.

The City of Batavia has about 16,000 people in it. Approximately the whole city of Batavia is killed every year in DWI crashes. The population of Genesee County is about 60,000 people and Orleans County is about 40,000 to equal 100,000 people. Over 112,000 people have been killed in DWI fatalities since 9/11. That's the whole population of Genesee and Orleans counties.

What has been our national response to this carnage? Has Homeland Security protected you from drunk drivers? Have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan protected you from drunk drivers. No my friends. The enemy isn't out there, the enemy is us and we kill each other in huge numbers. Terrorists didn't kill my kids, it was a drunk driver from Lockport. Terrorists didn't kill Sarah's daughter, Lindsey, it was a drunk driver in Rochester.

So, I asked myself, before I spoke on the panel, dredging up all the pain and turmoil of grief of loosing my two children (something a person never gets over) does this victim impact panel activity make a difference?

I look at the data and I notice that drunk driving fatalities have dropped 44% from 1982 to 2008 from 21,113 per year to 11,773 per year.

Since the population of the United States is larger in 2008 than it was in 1982, the actual number might not be the best comparison. So if you look at the DWI fatality rate per 100,000 of population the rate has fallen from 9.1/100,000 in 1982 to 3.9/100,000 in 2008 a drop of 57%. Yeah!

Utah and New York tie for the lowest DWI fatality rates in the United States at 1.7/100,000. Last year New York State had 340 DWI fatalities while Texas had 1,269.

I take comfort in knowing that Brigid and Ryan and Lindsey did not die in vain because their parents are willing to tell their stories on Victim Impact Panels to raise offender's consciences.

Panel speakers are not paid. It is a labor of love and conviction.

Yes, it has made a big difference. It is less likely that you and your loved ones will be killed today because of the volunteer victims who have devoted countless hours sharing their stories of pain, suffering and grief.

As much as it is hard to speak, even after 16 years, I will follow Kathy Seymour's example and continue to tell Brigid and Ryan's stories. I don't want to think that they died in vain.

Deindividuation contributes to substance abuse problems

Does deindividuation contribute to substance abuse? Absolutely! If you're curious how deindividuation works you can get more information by clicking here.

Lessons in manangement - Character vs. skill

Today, I am starting a new category on this blog entitled "Lessons in management."

I have been in the Social Work field for 41 years most of which I have worked as a direct service provider as well as a supervisor, Program Director, Deputy Director for Program Operations, and as an Executive Director. As a Social Worker I have an interest in and an appreciation of Microsystems and Macrosystems. There is a great deal of information and knowledge about working with mircrosystems and macrosystems which is readily available in trainings, degree programs, in books, on the Internet, etc. While there is a great deal of knowledge and information, it is increasingly difficult because of the proliferation of information to discern what really matters and how to bring the information into application. Under this category of "Lessons in management" I am hoping to share with you, the reader, what I have discovered really matters.

My first article will address the hiring or selection process.

Sometimes the hiring manager must choose between a person who is highly skilled but of questionable character and a person of exceptional character but not as highly skilled. Always choose the person with exceptional character. The reason is simply that a person of exceptional character can be taught skills and be provided knowledge, but the person highly skilled but of questionable character is much more difficult to transform into a decent person.

I would much rather hire decent people and train them than hire highly skilled people who are not decent.

Of course the ideal situation is highly skilled people who have exceptional character. They are such a blessing to work with. I have surrounded myself continually with such people but it often has taken me a few years to get such a team in place. When such a team "jells" it is a huge blessing and joy.

In my carrer I have been been richly blessed and sometimes been cursed. When I have been surrounded by people of poor character especially who have been in authority over me I have tried as best I could to bring a positive influence to bear, but often with demoralizing consequences. In those situations, I have resigned and moved on. Life is too short to be surrounded by people who are morally and ethically deficient. Unfortunately, charming psychopaths, have knack for climbing the career ladder and ascending to high places where they have garnered the power, prestige, obeisance of people they can manipulate. It is best to separate yourself from such people and such organizations which they supervise and lead even if it means a cut on pay and position.

Virtue is more important than high organizational status. Good managers know this and act accordingly especially in human service organizations where the well being of clients/patients is in the hands of professionals providing services.

This is article #1 in a series on Lessons in management.

GCASA demonstrates a high commitment to professional education

GCASA has a long history of commitment to Human Service professional education. GCASA's student internship program has grown and become stronger over the years to the point now that, unfortunately, we have to turn students away.

GCASA's commitment to professional education is good for the Behavioral Health field, good for GCASA's staff, good for our neighboring colleges and universities, good for our clients, and good for our community.

GCASA has incorporated the commitment to professional education into its way of doing things, into its institutional culture, and it receives no additional funding or reimbursement for the tremendous contribution it makes.

In the 2009 - 2010 academic school year GCASA has 11 of its staff who serve as field instructors for 14 different students from 6 different Colleges such as SUNY Brockport, University of Buffalo, Nazareth College, Roberts Wesleyan, Keuka, and Genesee Community College. GCASA also provides shadowing and work study opportunities for Genesee Valley BOCES students.

Human Service professionals are low paid, with poor benefits, in very stressful jobs. People go into the field for the satisfaction and fulfillment derived from the work, rather than for external rewards. The staff morale at GCASA is very good, and client satisfaction is very high, and this is due to many factors one of which is having eager, enthusiastic, motivated, excited students who want to help people and make the world a better place.

Based on comments made on the Daily News articles on GCASA, GCASA is accused of being a money grubbing agency that makes life tough on innocent people who have gotten caught up in the criminal justice system due to their substance abuse, and a Medicaid mill ripping off the taxpayers. Upon closer look with more objective eyes GCASA is not about any of this and these comments may be due to sour grapes and prejudicial attitudes which stigmatize people with a very serious, if not terminal, disease. GCASA's participation with neighboring colleges and universities preparing the health care and human service professionals of tomorrow is another manifestation of GCASA's commitment to improving the health of the community and making a better world for all of us. GCASA's commitment to professional education is not about money because there is no money in it for GCASA. It is about community service and raising the bar for the quality of services which GCASA provides. There is no agency of GCASA's size in Western New York which has made the commitment to professional education which GCASA has and because of this we all can be very proud.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2009 admissions data - How many people does GCASA serve in its clinical programs?

Okay sports fans, or should I write GCASA fans?

It's that time of year when yours, truly, Davey G, that is David G. Markham, enthusiastic executive director of GCASA, starts crunching the admission data. Usually, I have shared this data with staff, and board members, and it seems that it might of some interest to the wider audience which this blog has accumulated. So, today, I am starting a new series on this blog, labeled "admissions data". If you follow this series of articles it will help you gain an understanding and appreciation for the people GCASA services in our area.

So fasten your seat belts and get ready for a ride that probably will last a few weeks. Bring along your beverages and cheese doodles to comfort yourself as I present some boring data, but data which I will embellish and pontificate on in what I hope are illuminating, edifying, and entertaining ways.

This first article is on GCASA's overall admissions data in its two treatment programs in Genesee and Orleans Counties and in the Atwater Community residence which has 17 co-ed beds, and 24 Supportive Living beds at 6 sites in Genesee County.

Here is the table showing the admissions for an 11 year period from 1999 - 2009.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

There are a couple of things which jump right out at you.

1. GCASA has doubled its number of admissions over the last 10 years. This has been done in spite of decreases in deficit funding from the Counties and the State, and with no increases in reimbursement rates. How have you done this you might ask? The answer? Excellent management and exceptional skilled and hard working staff.

2. Admissions have leveled off since 2005, how come? Simple answer - needs are as great as ever especially with the the advent of drug courts and the state's change in policy to change the Rockefeller Drug Laws, but there isn't enough resources to meet the demand. Also, Horizons came into Genesee County a couple of years ago to offer services to people who can pay. Unfortunately, this has left GCASA with the people who can't pay and need a sliding fee scale, but with no increase in deficit funding this has put GCASA between a rock and a hard place when it comes to serving people in need who don't have the ability to pay the fees for their treatment.

3. Overall, it is pretty amazing that GCASA has served over 1,000 people per year in Genesee and Orleans Counties. Over the coming articles we will tell you more about the demographic characteristics of who these people are. There is an 80% chance that you know them because they are a member of your family, a co-worker from work, a neighbor down the street, a member of your church.

4. GCASA has four programs: treatment, residential services, prevention, and employee assistance. The data in this series of articles only measures people in GCASA's treatment and residential services programs. Prevention and EAP services get measured in totally different ways.

Please leave your comments and ideas.

This is article #1 in a series on 2009 Admissions data

Announcing: Self Help Group For Compulsive Talkers

"GCASA is starting a self-help group for compulsive talkers.
It's called On & On Anon."

Day care cuts force people back onto welfare

Albany and Erie County's day care cuts forcing people onto welfare.

GCASA has a number of "working poor" who are employees and many who are clients. This screw up in social policy hurts our employees and clients alike. In the long run it weakens our communities and decreases the quality of our lives.

I am aware that the Goldman Sachs folks got their bonuses and are running up record profits because of the largess of us taxpayers. What about our neighbors and their kids?

Something is not right when the rich get rich and the poor get poorer and the inequity between social classes spreads wider.

We see it at GCASA every day and it is very disturbing.

Read Donn Esmonde's editorial. It is worth it. You can access it by clicking here.

This is article #2 in a series on working poor.

Monday, January 25, 2010

GCASA Foundation presents Bobby Militello for an evening of jazz on April 24

Most people don't know that GCASA has two corporations: the GCASA services corporation, and the GCASA Foundation. The GCASA Foundation not only provides financial support for GCASA but also for other community not-for-profits in the region.

For examples in 2009 the GCASA Foundation made contributions to six community not-for-profits: the Mental Health Association of Genesee County, Crossroads House, Regional Action Line, Ministries of Concern, Salvation Army, and United Memorial Medical Center.

It is hoped that the evening of jazz will become annual signature event of the GCASA Foundation. This year Bobby Militello the jazz saxophonist from Buffalo, NY will be the headliner. There is limited seating at the Stuart Steiner Theater at Genesee Community College so get your tickets early. Call Pam LaGrou at 585-815-1803.

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Is Genesee County a good place for low income people to work?

I have gotten interested in how day care subsidies are administered in New York State when I realized that day care subsidies seriously affect GCASA's workforce and its clients, especially its female clients who, if a GCASA client, is parenting in her home is usually a woman.

It came to my attention that there is wide variability in day care subsidies from county to county for no rational reasons. New York is one of a handful of states that allows local social services districts to determine child care subsidies. So fo example a family of three living in Livingston County earning $36,620.00 per year would pay a family share of $1,831.00 for day care which is 5% of the household income, while the same family in Genesee County would pay $6,408.00 or 17.5% of its household income. This is a difference of %4,577.00 which is significant to the family. Such a person, of course, based on this one expense would be far better off to move out of Genesee County.

Only 11 out of 92 employees at GCASA make over $40,000.00 per year. 81 of the remaining employees average $26,500.00 per year. If they have children and would need a child care subsidy, they would be much better off living in Livingston County than in Genesee County even with commuting costs. These kinds of patch work policies make it difficult for GCASA to attract and retain a qualified work force especially when its salaries are already often very low.

This is article #1 in a series on working poor.

Quit drinking, drugging, smoking, gambling and get rich.

Quit drinking, drugging, smoking, gambling and get rich. Check out C.A.S.H.

C.A.S.H. - Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope - is a community coalition led by Empire Justice Center and the United Way of Greater Rochester. C.A.S.H. was established in 2002 to help low-income workers make the most of their money and build stronger financial futures.

C.A.S.H. improves the financial well being of working families by:

Offering free income tax preparation to help eligible families take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit
Offering free one-on-one financial coaching and education
Maximizing financial assets through matched savings accounts, alternatives to predatory lending practices, credit repair, and asset building strategies.
In other words, C.A.S.H. helps working families Get, Keep and Grow their money.


A community coalition providing opportunities to workers with low incomes to obtain, maintain and grow economic assets


Greater Rochester community promotes economic well-being of workers with low incomes
Workers with low incomes understand and take advantage of available asset-building resources
Our neighborhoods are free of predatory financial practices
Low-income communities have a greater economic asset base

Check out C.A.S.H. by clicking here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Intoxication enchants while sobriety provides a reality check

"I got in at 2, drunk, with a 10, and woke up hung over, at 10 with a 2."

Paraphrase of a County and Western Song title.

Raise the tax on alcohol to pay for the services needed to repair the harm done by it.

There will be a series of articles on alcohol beverage tax policies as they affect substance abuse and public health on this blog.

Increasing tax on alcoholic beverages does two things:

1. It reduces teenage drinking and over-consumption by adults.

2. It makes tax money available to address the "harm related" consequences of alcohol abuse such as criminal justice services, health related problems, and the need for social welfare services.

Does raising the tax on alcoholic beverages accomplish this? Absolutely.

See the study which appeared in the June, 2009, issue of the journal, Addiction, which found the following on a meta-analysis of 112 studies:

Conclusions A large literature establishes that beverage alcohol prices and taxes are related inversely to drinking. Effects are large compared to other prevention policies and programs. Public policies that raise prices of alcohol are an effective means to reduce drinking.

Ron Bogle a former Superior Court Judge in North Carolina has the following to say according to an article in the Join Together Web Site:

"Legislators are desperate for money," said Jernigan. "It's a win-win situation: raise revenues and reduce a public-health problem."

Overall, the taxpayers are getting the short end of the stick when one considers the costs of the alcohol induced harm in our society compared to the tax money raised from alcohol to help pay for these services.

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services in facing cuts this year in the Governor Patterson's Budget Reduction Plan. Needed services that address alcohol induced harm will be cut as well. Why not have the people who use alcohol pay for the cost of these services? Seems simple enough to me - "If you want to play, you got to pay."

GCASA staff deal with the devastating effects of alcohol on individuals, families, neighborhoods, employers, and our State every day. Unfortunately, GCASA has had to cut some its services because of a lack of resources to provide those services even when there continues to be high demand. The reason that there has been no increase in governmental funding and reimbursement is that the State has no money, the counties have no money, etc. Well, people seem to have the money to drink. They drink and drive, drink and assault, drink and rape, drink and disrupt our neighborhoods and communities. To just blame the miscreant is to miss the social responsibility that breweries and distilleries make buying and consuming their products appear desirable and attractive. The state licenses the sale of these beverages and realizes some tax revenue from these sales even though very little of it goes for the treatment and response to the problems these very sales create.

As a civil and moral society, taking responsibility for our actions is key to our continued success, but continuing to sell intoxicating beverages and not provide treatment for the problems they create is an irresponsible social policy and an indication of poor governance among a citizenry which deserves better.

This is article #1 on a series on Alcohol Tax Policies.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Truth: the mind altering drug that GCASA pushes

"The best mind altering drug is truth."

Lily Tomlin

Help in Genesee and Orleans Counties for Alcohol and Drug problems


In Orleans County - 585-589-0055

In Genesee County - 585-343-1124

Friday, January 22, 2010

Have another beer

Addicts are impulsive and compulsive. They have to have what they want when they want it.

It is difficult to find the space between impulse and action, that space that allows judgement to flow like a cooling breeze to dampen the heat of compulsion, that perspective that allows discernment which would stifle my tongue which would rush to spit out words that attack and slash and wound those who are nothing but innocent bystanders or those who have gotten in between me and my fix.

Addiction not only affects the person enslaved but those who are in relation with the person so possessed.

The realization that people are impacted by addiction brings shame because we know this is not how things are meant to be. This is not how human beings are meant to behave and live. The breweries have lied to us. The distilleries have lied to us. They have insidiously convinced us and our children that their products offer us the good life. Some are foolish enough, empty enough, confused enough, illiterate enough, to believe such promises.

Human beings hate their lives and love their intoxicants. Their intoxicants take them out of their boredom, out of their suffering, out of their anxiety and fears. Intoxicants weaken their hatreds and disgust for themselves and their lives.

Facing addiction brings one to the perennial and greatest questions of human existence, for what was I born, how should I live, what is the meaning of my life, what happens when I die?

Recovery is not about quitting. It is about starting. Recovery is about creating enough space in one's life to begin to explore the basic question of how should I live my life?

It is the fundamental question that most people don't have the courage to ask, to explore, to pursue. It's so much easier to just have another beer. This Bud's for you.

Orders of Protection work

From the Winter, 2009 - 2010 issue of the Legal Services Journal published by the Empire Justice Center:

To victims of intimate partner violence, civil orders of protection represent one of the most sought after and useful legal remedies available to help provide protection from abuse.

In a 2003 study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, individuals with permanent civil orders of protection experienced a significant decrease in the risk of police-reported domestic violence from their partners.1 Many victims indicate a preference for civil protection relief citing, among other things, the desire for basic protection from their abusers, rather than criminal punishment. Some are reluctant to proceed in the criminal system because they have a negative history of experiences with police or prosecutors, while others may have concerns about prosecution in cases not involving injury and serious abuse. Further, many victims rightfully fear ongoing retaliation from their abuser if he or she is arrested and charged with a crime.

In New York, the primary issuer of civil orders of protection is the Family Court under Article Eight. In this forum, petitioners have: access to Probation Departments, court staff or trained court-based victim advocates who can assist with petition-drafting; the aid of domestic violence or victim advocates who provide support and information as victims navigate the civil system; their case quickly heard by a decision-maker, often within 24 hours of filing a petition; the right to counsel; a lower burden of proof for non-violation proceedings; no filing fees; availability of comprehensive order of protection terms and conditions customized to meet the petitioner’s needs; and access to attorneys for the children when warranted. For many victims, the ability to have significant input in the direction of their civil case is quite meaningful and provides for improved safety planning and, in some cases, more effective outcomes.

Often time when addiction is involved domestic violence is a part of the situation. How can family members cope with an abuser, and/or addict out of control? There is no such thing as involuntary treatment for substance abuse in New York State. New York State Citizens are free to abuse substances such as alcohol if they so choose. However, they are not free to engage in criminal behavior and intoxication is not a defense.

What is a family member to do?

An Order Of Protection might help.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

True recovery is about joy

"Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."

Rumi as translated by Coleman Barks

What recovery is really about is not abstinence, but rather joy.

We no longer need to anesthetize our boredom, our pain, our angst, but we have found ways of celebrating our existence that far outshines artificial intoxicants.

What we are about at GCASA is not deprivation and shame, but awakening to the authentic joy of life. This joy maybe something never known or long forgotten.

As John Bradshaw says, the main challenge of recovery is not having to give things up but rather finding better ways to fill the hole in our soul.

As Rumi says, take down your instrument and let the beauty we love be what we do.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is meth finally arriving in New York State?

From article on WBNG web site on January 17, 2010:

In the last ten years, there have been more than 300 methamphetamine labs uncovered in New York State.

Almost a quarter of those in Broome and Tioga Counties.

The latest drug bust was Thursday, on Hooper Road in the Town of Union.

Three men were arrested after manufacturing the illegal drug.

Officials say the Southern Tier is a hot spot for meth labs.

And the most active area in New York State.

"It just so happens that the first cookers that came in over the last decade happened to be associated with the Southern Tier and settled here, and what we find is when one person learns it, they teach between 5 and 10 other people, so that's why the Southern Tier is a hot bed of activity for meth labs," said Lt. Patrick Garey with the New York State Police.

Police are also concerned with the number of weapons showing up in drug busts.

They found 7 guns in Thursday's meth bust alone.

Meth labs have also been busted in Orleans and Genesee Counties too in the last year.

GCASA has lower overhead and fringe benefit costs that other agencies in Western New York.

Dopkins and Company, an accounting firm in Buffalo, NY, has done a CFR (Consolidated Fiscal Report) benchmarking report of state funded not-for-profit agencies in Western, NY for the 2007 - 2008 fiscal year.

Out of a potential pool of 350 not-for-profit agencies, 72 agencies agreed to participate in the study, GCASA being one.

There are some interesting findings which I want to report to our taxpayers who wonder whether they are getting their money's worth in supporting GCASA's mission and services.

I will be writing a series of reports because the data can be overwhelming if it is presented all at once.

In this second article on the benchmarking which Dopkins and Company did on agency performance based on the CFRs it was found that GCASA's overhead was at 11.97% as compared to 12.44% for other agencies with budgets under $10,000,000.00.

Further the total agency fringe benefits as a percentage of total salaries is 21.53% as compared to 25% for other not-for-profits in the region and as compared to 23.43% for agencies with budgets under $10,000,000.00 and 27.73% for agencies with budgets over $20,000.000.00.

The conclusions from this data is that GCASA is extremely well run when it come to managing its overhead and its fringe benefits. This of course is good for the taxpayors and funders and not so good for its employees who could get a better fringe benefit package working for other agencies.

This data dispells the myth expressed in comments to the Daily News that GCASA's staff are getting rich, very well paid, and pampered burdens to the taxpayers. In fact the opposite is the truth when one looks at the actual data. GCASA is extremely frugal, well run, and employees are involved more in a labor of love than one of personal enrichment and aggrandisement.

The executive director and other GCASA managers continue to advocate to policy makers and funders for the GCASA staff which is very hard working and achieves excellent results and yet continues to be relatively poorly compensated and provided for.

This is article #2 in a series on the not-for-profit benchmarking report.

What happens when substance abuse prevents parents from caring for their own children?

4.5 million children live in grandparent headed households in the United States.

Over the last 20 years this has been a 30% increase in grandparent headed households.

There are multiple reasons for this increase in grandparent headed households but the single biggest contributor is the substance abuse of the parent.

How do children do in what are called "kinship care" foster homes as compared to traditional foster care? In general, they do better in kinship care.

Here is a snippet from an abstract of a meta analysis of 62 studies that investigated this form of care.

Sixty two quasi-experimental studies were included in this review. Data suggest that children in kinship foster care experience better behavioral development, mental health functioning, and placement stability than do children in non-kinship foster care. Although there was no difference on reunification rates, children in non-kinship foster care were more likely to be adopted while children in kinship foster care were more likely to be in guardianship. Lastly, children in non-kinship foster care were more likely to utilize mental health services.

51% of GCASA's clients report that they are parents, but only 41% of GCASA's clients who have children living with them which means that 60% of the children of GCASA's clients are living elsewhere.

Another interesting fact is that 47% of GCASA's clients report that they, themselves, are the children of substance abusers.

GCASA offers support for grandparents raising their children's children. A support group meets on the first Monday of every month. For more information, contact Sue Hawley at 585-815-1872 or email Sue at

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Administrative Staff at GCASA provide exceptional service at lower than average executive salaries

Dopkins and Company, an accounting firm in Buffalo, NY, has done a CFR (Consolidated Fiscal Report) benchmarking report of state funded not-for-profit agencies in Western, NY for the 2007 - 2008 fiscal year.

Out of a potential pool of 350 not-for-profit agencies, 72 agencies agreed to participate in the study, GCASA being one.

There are some interesting findings which I want to report to our taxpayers who wonder whether they are getting their money's worth in supporting GCASA's mission and services.

I will be writing a series of reports because the data can be overwhelming if it is presented all at once.

First as regards to GCASA's administrative staff it is significant that GCASA's administrative staff are all paid  at or below the average for other not-for-profits.

For example, GCASA's executive director is compensated at a rate of $38.91 per hour as compared to $63.30 per hour in the region. When compared to small (less than $10,000,000), medium ($10,000,000 - $20,000,000) and large (over $20,000,000) agencies, GCASA's executive salary is much less than the salary of the average small agency salary which is $51.73, medium size agency salary which is $63.34, and large agency salary which is $76.73.

GCASA's executive director declined a salary increase for 2010 in spite of the fact that he already is one of the lowest paid executive director's in Western New York not-for-profits.

In spite of the low executive salary, the agency has won national awards for its Drug Free Communities Coalition and for its Outpatient Treatment Clinic in Genesee County. Are the taxpayers getting extraordinary value as compared to other communities in Western New York? It appears so in regards to the indicator of Administrative Salaries.

This is article #1 in a series on Not-For Profit Benchmarking report

Tobacco addiction should be treated during recovery

Tobacco addiction should be treated during recovery. GCASA has been doing this for several years now. Kathy Hodgins and Sarah Edwards are GCASA's nicotine addiction specialists. If you would like to learn more, click here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

GCASA saved my life

"When I was still drinking, I couldn't respond to any of life's situations the way other, more healthy, people could. The smallest incident triggered a state of mind that believed I had to have a drink to numb my feelings. But the numbing did not improve the situation, so I sought further escape in the drinking and drugging. Things got worse and I wound up at GCASA. They saved my life by giving my life back to me by teaching me ways to handle things other than by drinking and drugging. I know that sounds like a simple common sense thing, but it is not. It is very hard to an addict. It is like telling a very thirsty person in the desert not to drink water, or someone who hasn't eaten in 3 or 4 days not to eat the bread in front of him. People don't understand addiction if you don't understand the absolute life and death desparation that people feel when they can't obtain their drug of choice.

It's not only Okay to ask for help, it is absolutely life saving in many instances. I know that if I hadn't got the help I obtained, I'd be a dead man now."

In case you wonder what alcohol abuse can do to your body

Medical complications of alcohol abuse

Cardiovascular: Cardiomyopathy; hypertension; ischemic heart disease; acute myocardial infarction

Gastrointestinal: Alcohol hepatitis; cirrhosis of the liver; pancreatitis; cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, liver, and colon/rectum/appendix

Neurologic: Wernicke’s encephalopathy; Korsakoff’s syndrome; decline in cognitive abilities; decreased gray and white matter; increased ventricular and sulcal volume; peripheral neuropathy

Other: Renal dysfunction; osteoporosis; breast cancer

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The magic wand doesn't always work when they're stoned

Reas Kroicowl had to tell the Doc who referred him that her wand didn't work:

OK, here we go.


Docs, listen up, and I'm going to yell it this time cuz you can't seem to get the message on this one:


Read the rest, click here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

DWI driver kills Santa

Video lasts 1:26

She killed Santa but no human beings thank God!

January 16, 1920, prohibition began in the United States

Prohibition against alcohol began on January 20, 1920 and existed until 1933.

For more the history of this socical policy, click here.

In spite of public misperception, GCASA is not prohibitionist. We put substance abuse on a continuum of use.........abuse...........addiction. A case can sometimes be made for recreational use of substances and activities (like gambling), but there is a line when use becomes abuse (which occurs when the use causes trouble) and addiction which is signaled by compulsive behaviors and withdrawal when the person does not have access to his/her drug or activity of choice.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Working poor upset over cut in day care subsidies - GCASA Executive Director worried about agency's workforce

From the Buffalo News on 01/07/10:

Working poor upset over cut in day care subsidies

County action limiting eligibility may force ex-recipients to quit their jobs, go on welfare

You can read the whole article by clicking here.

GCASA currently has about 92 employees only 11 of which earn more than $40,000.00 per year. Of the remaining 81 employees, the average annual salary is $26,500.00. Many of GCASA's employees could be considered "working poor". Even so, a high placed OASAS official told us that OASAS would look "unfavorably" if GCASA was to give its employees a 2% raise in 2010 which on average would amount to an increase of $530.00.

As executive director, I would hate to loose any employees who had to resign because they could no longer afford day care for their children.

There is something seriously wrong with our priorities in the United States when we can spend billions of dollars to bailout the banks who give their employees millions of dollars in bonuses for selling bogus financial instruments, and spend a trillion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when poor working people in the third poorest major city in the United States, Buffalo, NY, loose their child care subsidies and have to go on welfare.

It's almost enough to drive you to drink.

Free burials for DUI victims in Georgia

I sure could have used this when my kids were killed in 1993. Brigid was 5 and Ryan was 8. I wish that no one would have ever have the opportunity to take this funeral home up on their offer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fetal deaths in DWI crashes - Does the fetus count at a human being?

From in central Indiana on January 6, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- Danielle Steinberger's voice shook Tuesday as she told an Indiana Senate committee about losing her unborn son, Drew.

"Our lives were changed in a moment because of the recklessness by another person," said Steinberger, supporting a proposed Indiana law that would allow prosecution of drunken drivers whose actions lead to the death of an unborn child.

Steinberger, of Ohio, was eight months pregnant in 2007 when her car was struck by an intoxicated driver in Richmond.

"I woke up three-and-a-half weeks later to find out we had lost our son," Steinberger recalled.

She spent more than three months in a hospital and two months more in a nursing home after breaking 26 bones.

The drunken driver was transferred to an Ohio hospital and no blood draw was taken that would have allowed for standard prosecution on a DWI charge. The driver was only ticketed for having no insurance.

Ironically in Ohio, it is a felony for an intoxicated driver to cause a crash where a pregnancy is terminated. About 36 states have similar laws, but not Indiana.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Jersey to pass medical marijuana bill

From New York Times on 01/12/10

TRENTON — The New Jersey Legislature approved a measure on Monday that would make the state the 14th in the nation, but one of the few on the East Coast, to legalize the use of marijuana to help patients with chronic illnesses.

The measure — which would allow patients diagnosed with severe illnesses like cancer, AIDS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis to have access to marijuana grown and distributed through state-monitored dispensaries — was passed by the General Assembly and State Senate on the final day of the legislative session.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he would sign it into law before leaving office next Tuesday. Supporters said that within nine months, patients with a prescription for marijuana from their doctors should be able to obtain it at one of six locations.

Finally some rational legal policy about cannibis on the east coast. It is about time. Can New York State be far behind?

Two years ago we had an OASAS program reviewer at GCASA telling us that an agency was cited in Syracuse because a nurse practitioner there had written into a treatment plan that she recommended that a patient confined to a wheelchair because of Multiple Sclerosis use cannabis.

I stated in the exit meeting that it seemed like a reasonable treatment plan to me. The reviewer said that it was unacceptable. When I asked why, the reviewer said that OASAS has an abstinence based treatment model.

This is not true. OASAS licensed programs use methadone, suboxone, and other psychotropic medications on a regular basis.

It is interesting how much of our drug policies are still not based on any rational science but rather on ideological myths.

It is a positive thing to see that New Jersey is finally legalizing the availability of cannabis to people who can be benefited by it.

It is interesting how New Jersey is leading the way. How long before New York follows?

And let me point out again, that alcohol causes 100 times the problems in our society that cannabis does.

How important are social networks in substance abuse recovery?

On December 14, 2009, Living Proof, the podcast produced by the School of Social Work at University of Buffalo, dealt with the facilitation of social networds as Charles Syms interviewed Dr. Elizabeth Tracy. Here is what it says on the web site:

In this podcast, Dr. Elizabeth Tracy traces the significance of social networks in social work practice, describes the types of social network interventions used by social workers, and discusses her research concerning social networks and the role of trauma and violence among women presenting with substance abuse or dual disorders.

This podcast is well worth listening to. It lasts about 38 minutes.

Substance abuse counselors often point out to clients that if they are to be successful in their recovery they must change their people, places, and things. Much easier said than done.

To listen click here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

States dither while individuals take action

From the New Haven Independent on 12/30/09:

Two years ago Connecticut ranked dead last in the country in an important smoking-prevention barometer: It used the smallest percentage of money received from a multi-billion federal tobacco settlement for efforts to help people stop smoking and prevent others (mostly kids) from starting.

Since then the state has climbed into the middling ranks. It’s still spending only 1.5 percent of the tobacco funds that come in on prevention.

Enter Kenneth Driffin. He didn’t get any of that settlement money. He’s doing the work, anyway.

GCASA has worked on the tobacco issue for years. We also lost our funding even though we had an excellent program. GCASA continues to work on the issue even without Department Of Health funding.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What's wrong in Albany?

I had a sense that something is wrong. It seems like the governance of New York State is askew. So some of the staff at GCASA decided to talk with legislators and we have begun the process.

The findings have been shocking to me. One legislator had no idea what deficit funding is and didn't understand how services are financed in the state. Another legislator had no idea that State employees make twice as much and have much better benefits than their counterparts working in community based non-profits. This legislator had a staff person do some "fact checking" and were shocked that the information I had provided was correct. They seemed genuinely surprised and grateful for the information. Another legislator was very frustrated when he attempted to get a friend admitted to inpatient rehab for cocaine addiction and even with commercial health insurance the service was denied unless the person had three unsuccessful episodes of outpatient treatment.

As I drove to work this morning I reflected on my initial observations. I asked myself the following questions:

1. How do legislators govern systems that they have so little knowledge of?

2. What responsibility do I have and other people familiar with these systems to educate them?

3. How can citizens and consumers of services obtain satisfying services when they are regulated and governed by people who are ignorant of the very systems they are responsible for?

4. I take responsibilty for ASSUMING that our legislators know what they are doing. Do you remember the old cliche that to ASSUME makes an Ass Out Of You And Me.

5.I am struck again observing how much "noise" there is in the system. So much chatter that has little to do with anything. Wisdom comes not so much from the accumulation of more information and knowledge, but in knowing what matters.

6. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. There is pleny of bad judgment in State government. Here's hoping that our legislators, sworn to serve us, wake up to what matters.

7. After my children were killed in a DWI crash, my favorite button became, "Reality Is When It Happens To You." It is easy to overlook and ignore what matters so desparately to others until it happens to you as one legislator found out when care could not be obtained for a friend.

8. Substance abuse and addiction touches 80% of the families in New York State. It is easy to look down on these "druggies" and "alchoholics" until it is your father, your mother, your son or daughter, your brother or sister, you neice or nephew, maybe a cousin or a good friend. Then what? You will want help for them. You will want a place to turn. You cannot take this for granted especially when the ones calling the shots are often shooting in the dark.

DWW - Drunk while walking can be dangerous

From Science Daily on 12/31/09:

This is the time of the holiday season when New Year's partiers are inundated with warnings about the risks of drinking and driving.

Little is ever heard, though, about the risks of drinking and walking, which can be just as dangerous, said trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito at Loyola University Health System in Maywood.

"Alcohol impairs your physical ability to walk and to drive," Esposito said. "It impairs your judgment, reflexes and coordination. It's nothing more than a socially acceptable, over-the-counter stimulant/depressant."

A trauma surgeon for more than 20 years, Esposito has witnessed the tragic aftermath of drunken walking professionally and personally. Several years ago, Esposito's cousin of his opted to walk instead of driving home from a party where he had been drinking.

"A driver, who I don't believe was intoxicated, did not see him and hit him and he was killed," said Esposito, who is also professor of surgery and chief of the division of trauma, surgical critical care and burns in the department of surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "They found him on the side of the road on New Year's Day."

In 2005, the journal Injury Prevention reported that New Year's Day is more deadly for pedestrians than any other day of the year. From 1986 to 2002, 410 pedestrians were killed on New Year's Day. Fifty-eight percent of those killed had high blood alcohol concentrations.

Gambling can be more than just a game

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Drugs or cognition - Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield explains

Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield describes the brain's cognitive processes for interpreting and learning from new sensations. Greenfield claims thrill-seeking -- "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" -- undermines these processes, recreating the sense of new experiences. "You never say, 'Oh, I'm going to have a really cognitive time tonight.'"

Video lasts 5:03

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"The dope was bad enough that you went cyanotic."

From Trench Warfare on 12/15/09:

Listen up, OK?

You had a bad trip. Got some tainted stuff. Took too much. Whatever.

The point is, the dope was bad enough that you went cyanotic. Which means that you turned BLUE because your body wasn't getting enough oxygen. Which means, in essence, that you would have died (seriously) if you hadn't arrived to the hospital ER when you did. Which means that the doc and the nurses had to do some quick and decisive work to save your life.

Reading Reas Kroicowl's blog, Trench Warfare, takes me back to my ED (Emergency Department) days. I used to work 5:00 PM - 7:00 AM, a 14 hour shift both at Rochester General Hospital and at Genesee Hospital. 18 years I worked in ED as well as my day job.

You have to deal with things in ED you don't usually have to deal with anywhere else like people dying or so out of control that they are a danger to themselves and others.

I have watched alcoholics and drug addicts die and sometimes, likes Reas describes, get brought back to life who are on death's door.

The work we do at GCASA is very serious work and often lifesaving. Alcohol and drugs can be a deadly activity.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Compulsive gambling - What's that?

There is a good article on the Socialworkblog, helpstarts here, web site. I recommend it to you if you would like to understand from a personal perspective how compulsive gambling can develop and the kind of help that is available.

GCASA offers both gambling prevention and treatment services.

To read the article, click here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The American Board of Addiction Medicine named its first group of addiction medicine specialists and GCASA's Medical Director, Dr. Charles King is one

The Join Together web site reported on May 15, 2009, that the American Board Of Addiction Medicine named its first group of board certified addiction medicine specialists. GCASA is very proud that its Medical Director, Dr. Charles King is one of them.

Here is a clip from the article:

In a major milestone for the addiction field, the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM) recently named the first group of board-certified addiction-medicine specialists, recognizing 1,240 doctors who previously had been certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

You can read the whole article by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do you know about Leandra's law? It's in effect in New York State

Beginning on December 18, 2009, it will now be a felony in New York to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle. Leandra's Law, named for Leandra Rosado, an 11 year old girl who was killed in a tragic New York DWI accident last October, will require that a motorist with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of more than 0.08 face a potential prison term of up to four years if they have a child 16 or under in the car. If the child is seriously injured in the DWI, the sentence could increase to 15 years, and if the child is killed, the potential jail term could be up to 25 years.

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Leandra's law took effect 12/18/09 - DWI with kids in the car

Genesee County has had its first arrest under Leandra's law which took effect in New York State on 12/18/09.

Basically what the law provides for is a felony DWI charge if the intoxicated driver has passengers in the car under 16 years old.

This is a far more serious charge that a misdemeanor DWI which would have been possible in the past.

From Daily News article by Scott DeSmit published 12/30/09:

Leandra's Law is named after Leandra Rosado, 11, who was killed Oct. 11 when the car she was in crashed and overturned on a New York City street. Leandra and several other girls were on their way to a slumber party. The driver was charged with DWI and vehicular manslaughter.

Under the new law, drivers now face felony DWI charges, rather than a misdemeanor under the previous law, if they have passengers under 16 years old.

Batavia Drug Court graduation this Friday, 01/08/10 at 10 AM

Click on image to enlarge for easier reading.

Quit smoking in 2010

Video lasts 1:16.

Quit smoking in 2010. Click here.

California and Los Angeles DUI Arrests Over New Years Eve 2009 Breaks All Records

The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Blog reported on 01/01/10:

The end of 2009 brought about a record number of California DUI arrests. This New Year's Eve into the early morning hours of the first day of 2010 ended with 527 DUI arrests throughout California and a total of 6 DUI related deaths. The number of California DUI arrests rose by almost 100 over the number of DUI arrests one year ago.

I would be interested in similar statistics for New York State.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Meth mouth

Video lasts 2:04.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Which state has the highest number of DWI fatalities in the nation?

In 2008

Texas had 1,269

California had 1,028

Florida had 875

Pennsylvania had 497

New York had 340

In spite of what the government tells you, you don't need to be afraid of terrorists. They don't kill that many people.

Drunk drivers have killed over 100,000 Americans since 9/11. How well is your government doing protecting you? Substance abuse treatment and prevention programs are being cut and Budweiser is wants you to know that their beer has "drinkability". Does that make you feel safer?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Failed drug war finally ending?

Ten signs that the failed drug war is finally ending on AlterNet on 12/04/09.

New York State made the list at #4.

4) Drop the Rock! NY's Draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws Finally Reformed (April)

After 35 years, New York's harsh Rockefeller Drug Laws were finally brought down in April, when Gov. David Paterson signed historic reforms eliminating lengthy mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent drug offenses. The reforms, which took effect in October, restored judicial sentencing discretion in most drug cases, expanded alternatives to incarceration and invested millions in drug treatment programs. Advocates who fought for years to secure these reforms are now working to turn New York from a model of everything that is wrong with drug policy to an example of what is possible when we deal with substance abuse as a health matter instead of a criminal justice issue.

GCASA hasn't seen any of the "invested millions in drug treatment programs" yet. Maybe it's coming.

To read the whole article click here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

When science trumps politics on substance abuse policy

What would a public health approach to drug addiction look like?

How about needle exchanges, and safe injection facilities?

to read more, click here