Community Drug Forum On Substance Abuse, Family Forums Set For March 11-12

MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan and Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene Commissioner Patricia Brinkman have announced additional details about the upcoming Community Drug Forum on drug abuse in Chautauqua County and two family forums that are being held in conjunction with the event.

The first family forum will be held on March 11 from 6-8 p.m. in Room 116 at the Jamestown Community College North County Center, 10807 Bennett Road in Dunkirk. The second family forum will be held on March 12 from 6-8 p.m. at the Carnahan Theater at Jamestown Community College, 525 Falconer St. in Jamestown. The family forums will be led by parent representatives from the New York state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and will offer families of those struggling with addition the opportunity to share their stories, identify system barriers, and suggest action steps going forward. It also gives individuals the opportunity to participate in a productive advocacy moment in Chautauqua County.

The Community Drug Forum will be held on March 12 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Chautauqua Suites, 215 West Lake Road in Mayville.

“The issue of substance abuse in our county is a top concern of mine and we need to come together to find real solutions,” Horrigan said. “Together with my co-moderator Dale Robbins, we will moderate this forum to engage the conversation and find real solutions to help address the terrible impacts of substance abuse in our community.”

“As part of the Community Forum, we are happy to welcome back Chautauqua County native Dr. David Withers from Geisinger Health System,” Brinkman said. “Dr. Withers is an expert on addiction as a disease and will offer his expertise in describing addiction’s effect on the brain.”

Brinkman said the purpose of the forum will be to increase awareness and understanding through education, engage the community in conversation, and energize all to a call for action.

Morning keynote presentations will include Dr. David Withers; Michele Spahn of the DEA; William Matthews of Harm Reduction Coalition; and a parent and advocate, Avi Israel who lost his son as a result of addiction. Public input and public engagement, including questions and answers will also be encouraged and facilitated throughout the day.

Afternoon presentations will include a panel discussion and question and answer session. Panelists will include Family Court Judge Judith Claire, Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace, Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano, Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings, District Superintendent/CEO of Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES Dr. David O’Rourke, Public Health Medical Director Dr. Robert Berke, Board of Health President/WCA Pathologist and Opiate Addiction Specialist Dr. William Geary, WCA Hospital Director of Chemical Dependency and Outpatient Mental Health Andy O’Brien, Registered Nurse of The Resource Center Danielle Kennelley, Director of Care Coordination & Behavioral Services Counseling & Psychiatric Services of The Resource Center Leanna Luka-Conley, Chautauqua Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Council Executive Director Pat Munson and Mental Health Association Executive Director Rick Huber.

Following the panel will be topic specific break-out sessions to inspire discussion, planning and action. Topics will include a family, addiction prevention, treatment options and barriers. Separate from the forum there will be a training session by Matthews on the use of Naloxone (Narcan), a drug used to counter the effects of opiate overdoses such as heroin or morphine. This training will take place during the break-out sessions.

The event is free and a box lunch made available by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation will be provided for all attendees. To ensure there is an accurate count for lunch, please register for the event by Wednesday.

For more information about the forums and to register for the Community Forum contact Marilyn Wright at 753-4507.