Helping the community understand the opioid crisis

May 22, 2018

Experts in opioid prevention, treatment and recovery joined law enforcement and others at the Strathallan Hotel on Tuesday to help the business community "Understand the Opioid Crisis."

That was the name of the event presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report showed large employers spent $2.6 billion dollars to treat opioid addiction and overdoses in 2016.

Chamber president Bob Duffy says they're looking at ways to get businesses around the region to get involved and help.

Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza addresses the opioid crisis at the event at the Strathallan
Credit greaterrochesterchamber.com

"We have some great panelists.  We have law enforcement, we have recovering addicts, we have treatment providers, a whole host of things and it takes everybody pulling together to help this. There's not going to be any quick fix or easy cure," he said.

Panelist Willie Jean Rounds-Dean knows that.

She says her drug use landed her in jail.

Rounds-Dean, now a counselor with addiction treatment and health services provider Huther Doyle, says a judge put her into a facility where she could get what she needed to beat her addiction.

"And I'm glad that he put me there because once I got from there I went into a halfway house, so once I left there I went into supported living.  And that was my journey to stay clean," she said.

Monroe County Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza was among the panelists.

He says the reality is, the opioid overdose epidemic is really taking its toll on our community.

"Addiction is important and that's a separate problem, but we've got to focus on overdose.  And the way you prevent overdose is through education and preparedness.  And the best way to be prepared is to have Narcan at the ready," he said.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter also participated.

He notes that the opioid crisis is killing people from all classes and all areas, pointing to an overdose in the town of Mendon last weekend.

"Off duty deputy is on the way home, car stopped in front of him.  He waited a bit, got out, and the guy had a needle stuck in his arm in the four corners of Mendon.  And he was OD'ing but luckily Narcan did its job that day," he said.

Baxter says educating people about prevention is key to getting a handle on this opioid crisis.