Sheriff to host meeting in V’ville on heroin addiction and prevention

ALBANY COUNTY — From January 2016 to the present, the sheriff’s emergency medical services have had to administer naloxone 27 times in the Hilltowns, Amy Kowalski, an investigator with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office told the Enterprise.

The life-saving drug stops the effect of opioid overdoses.

“Heroin is everywhere,” she said, adding that it is not relegated to one specific area.

The Albany County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a town-hall style event on the heroin epidemic at Clayton A. Bouton High School in Voorheesville on Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.

The event will feature Sheriff Craig Apple as a speaker, as well as members of Catholic Charities, Addictions Care Center of Albany, Albany Medical Center, and the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. The forum will include discussions on the heroin epidemic, preventing addiction, getting help, as well as training by Catholic Charities in the use of naloxone, known by its brand name Narcan. The organization will also offer a free kit.

Kowalski informed Hilltown residents at town board meetings over the past month of the event, saying that it is an unfortunate fact that heroin is in and is affecting the Hilltowns.

At the Knox town board meeting, Kowalski had described the Hilltowns as a “back door” for drugs to come through from the city of Schenectady, which is north of the Hilltowns. She added on Tuesday that drugs can come from every direction to places like the Hilltowns, not just Schenectady, but Albany, and other areas.

A 2014 study from the American Journal of Public Health describes the reason that opioid use and rural areas are linked. Prescribed opioids are more available due to more aging or injured individuals living in rural areas. An aging workforce or a lack of jobs for young people can also lead to economically deprived rural areas being more susceptible to drug use, while strong family ties and other social networks increase the risk of drug use across the entire family or social structure, the study said.

The study looked at counties with and without metropolitan areas. While Albany County has an urban area at its center, the far-flung Hilltowns often have more in common with areas like Schoharie or Greene counties.

At the Aug. 8 Knox Town Board meeting, citizens asked if the sheriff’s office could host a similar event at a closer venue, such as the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District’s campus. Kowalski told the Enterprise on Tuesday that the sheriff’s office is communicating with BKW about hosting an event, and had also heard from the village of Green Island — located at the opposite end of the county from the Hilltowns — about hosting an event there as well.


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