JAMESTOWN – The number of people using heroin and opioids in Chautauqua County hasn’t gone down this year, but it hasn’t grown either.
That’s the assessment from Rick Huber from the Mental Health Association (MHA) in Chautauqua County, who took time out this week to stop by WRFA’s Community Matters program and give us an update on the state of drug addiction and recovery in our area for 2017.
Huber, who serves as MHA director of new program development, said based on the number of individuals who’ve come into the MHA so far this year it appears that heroin use has leveled off, although there has been an increase in the number of users for another dangerous drug…
“Heroin seems to have leveled off, but it has not not decreased by any stretch and we’re still seeing a number of fatal overdoses, even with Narcan available as it is,” Huber said. “But we’ve seen meth really on the rise and now we’re hearing things about marijuana cut with fetynal, cocaine, and we’re still seeing crack out there, so it hasn’t slowed down any, from our view point, at all.”
When it comes to tracking the number of deaths that heroin has caused in Chautauqua County, Huber says that remains a challenge, partly because of the county doesn’t have its own medical examiner to investigate the specific cause of death.
“It’s the structure within our county, where we have county coroners instead of a medical examiner that things can come out of,” Huber said. “I know Christine Schuyler, Chautauqua County Director of Health and Human Services, is really trying to get a handle on this and get us some accurate statistics on this because we really need that to help fight this battle.”
For the first half of 2017, the local MHA has had 8500 total visits with 411 separate individuals coming into the facility seeking peer services. The MHA Has assisted 359 gaining access to treatment or medical services, 67 gaining employment, seven enrolling in college, 13 gaining their GED, and 130 gaining stable housing.
For more information on the MHA, stop by the facility at the Gateway Center at 31 Water Street or call (716) 661-9044.
The complete interview with Huber will be rebroadcast this weekend at noon on Sunday. It will also be posted online at our website early next week.