Meeting of 6/1/17: ‘Combating Heroin’

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-7-10-54-pmMeeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush, NY
June 1, 2017

Members Attending (17): Debbie Rodriguez, Roberto Martinez, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Bill Dowd, April Dowd, Jim Leyhane, Dick Drumm, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Julius Frankel, Jim Butterworth, Charlie Foote, Ray Hannan, Becky Raymond, Maggie Forth, Burke Adams.

Guests (2): Alyssa Evans, Jeremy Forth.

PROGRAM: ‘Combating Heroin’

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One of the slides in Alyssa Evans’s presentation.
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Guest speaker Alyssa Evans

Roberto Martinez introduced Alyssa Evans, a contract Student Assistance Counselor working with students from Columbia High School and Goff Middle School, as well as Troy, Lansingburgh and Averill Park high schools, on the drug problem plaguing our society.

Alyssa said opioid and heroin addiction is an epidemic that nationally continues to increase. She spoke of the statistics of the problem, including 1,443 reported drug deaths in 2014 which she said is toughly equivalent to the death toll during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s.

She said the problem often begins with the abuse of prescription drugs, often stolen from family members who have the drugs legally. Drug use often can be a manifestation of teen behavior and thought processes of rebellion, peer pressure, and the quest for feeling good triggered by young brains that have not yet fully matured. Abuse of prescription medicines often quickly leads to unintended addiction.

She described the variety of opioids, such a common prescription drugs codeine and fentanyl and even some cough syrups. Anything that produces a feeling of well-being is a possible opioid.

Heroin, derived from poppy flowers, is a street drug with similar effects and can be injected, snorted or smoked. It gets to the brain quickly and is highly addictive. She said 90% of people addicted to heroin started in their teens by using alcohol and marijuana.

She spoke about teen brain development which continues until the mid-20s and physically progresses from back to front, which means the area guiding judgment and self-control, which is in the frontal area, is the last to mature.

Alyssa said the importance of family interactions with teens is a tremendous factor. Adults who need to grab a beer to “unwind” as soon as they get home from work, or frequently pop a pill to relieve stress tend to set the tone for teens observing that behavior. Also, she encourages adults to lock up medications, do inventories of what they have on hand, do not share meds, and set clear ground rules.

She said anyone in need of guidance or other help with drug problems can avail themselves locally of such services as RADAR in Rensselaer, Nopiates in Averill Park, and others. A major help line is available by calling 1-877-8-HOPENY.

Alyssa’s PowerPoint presentation is available to our club website’s “Program Presentation Archive.” You can access it by clicking here.


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Burke Adams

MIRACLE LEAGUE — Club member Burke Adams, president of the Miracle League athletic program that serves local people with various disabilities, provided an update on the fundraising and other activities of the organization. Club President Debbie Rodriguez presented him with a check for $250 to cover the cost of having an SRC advertisement at the league’s baseball field, as we have done for many years. There are about 250 Miracle League organizations throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, and Australia, serving more than 200,000 participants. Locally, the field is located at 565 Luther Road in East Greenbush. Click here for more details on the organization.

ROTARY HOME COOKING SERIES — Treasurer Murray Forth reported that $385 was raised to help underwrite the club’s scholarship program during the recent surf-and-turf dinner hosted by he and Maggie at their residence.

FAMILY ASSISTANCE REQUEST — Becky Raymond reported on a May 14 arson that damaged the home of one of the few African-American families in Schodack, and requested that the club or individual members contribute in some way toward aiding the displaced family who police officials have deemed the victims of a racial incident. She said a Go-Fund-Me page has been created for the family. Attendees contributed $170 which Pat Bailey will use to purchase a gift card.

RYLA — Education Committee Chair Jim Butterworth informed President Debbie that the preferred deadline for applications again this year is June 30. In addition to Maple Hill High School, there is interest from Columbia High School. Averill Park and Rensselaer high schools also will be polled. Debbie said the club needs to ascertain the maximum number of students it will sponsor, at $375 each. We had five (5) budgeted this year, and the Maple Hill contingent used that up. (Several students from Averill Park initially wanted to be involved, but withdrew on their own and incurred no charge.) Bill Dowd issued a reminder that we need to have proper funding for that number of more in the 2017-18 club budget to be created by President-elect Roberto Martinez and Treasurer Murray Forth, as required by our Bylaws, in place for the start of the next Rotary Year on July 1. The latest downloadable RYLA brochure containing information, schedule and application forms is available on the club website by clicking here.

RONALD McDONALD HOUSE — Roberto reported that the dinner cooked on Wednesday (May 31) for families staying at the facility was successful. Coverage of the event is on the website. (Click here to see it.)

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, June 8, at Quigley’s. The program will be presented by video techs from CASDA who worked on the polio history video.