Friday, January 29, 2010

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.

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