County executives partner in bid to stem opioid abuse

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As the opioid crisis continues in communities across New York State, The New York State Association of Counties and the New York State Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners have partnered on a campaign to bring awareness to the signs of opioid abuse.

They have created an advertisement that will run on television stations throughout New York State. View the PSA at www.nysac.org/opioids.

Also, the website ny.seethesignssavealife.org was created to anchor this campaign and is a resource for anyone affected by this epidemic.

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, “Like other communities, the opioid crisis has hit Oneida County extremely hard. We all know someone who has succumbed to addiction, and we all wish we’d seen the signs before it was too late. The goal of this ad is to educate our communities about those signs, to encourage family members and friends to reach out if they think a loved one is struggling with addiction. This ad is emotional and powerful, and it’s a reminder that we all have the power to save lives.”

“From ‘first responder’ law enforcement receiving calls for help, to the ‘last responder’ Coroners and Medical Examiners confirming the cause of death, local government officials confront the effects of addiction and opioid abuse in our communities every day,” said Stephen Acquario, executive director of county organization. “We need to continually educate and inform our communities of the danger associated with opioid abuse. We are hopeful that this campaign will raise awareness of the signs of addiction before it’s too late. We can all encourage our families, friends, and neighbors to seek help and break the all too familiar cycle of use, abuse, addiction, overdose and death. It’s never too late to see the signs and save a life.”

Scott Schmidt, president of the coroners group, said, “The rationale behind this PSA was simple. We as coroners, medical examiners and funeral directors are tired of watching people die senselessly.”

“While we aren’t on the front lines of this epidemic, (such as fire and EMS personnel,) we are on the front line working with families in the aftermath as the last responders,” he said.

“We hear the repeated mantra of family members emphatically denying that their loved one used drugs. We are often the recipients of the overwhelming and often times heart-wrenching displays of grief and violent emotion because we are the ones with the answer that no one wants to hear. ‘Your loved one died of a drug overdose.’ The far-reaching effects of a drug overdose death are mind blowing.” he added.

“NYSCCME felt that by showing the after effects of using these lethal substances with an ‘in-your-face’ approach, we might be able to save at least one life,” Schmidt said.

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