Advice, Experiences Shared At Westchester Drug Forum

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A large crowd turns out at the Chappaqua Library for a forum focusing on the heroin and opioids epidemic.
A large crowd turns out at the Chappaqua Library for a forum focusing on the heroin and opioids epidemic. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

This is the second part of Daily Voice coverage on the drug-use forum. For the first part, click here.

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- At a recent forum, recovering heroin addict Craig Ames recalled how his addiction started with prescription pills. The medication that caused the dependence was accessible in cabinets.

Ames, a Mohegan Lake resident who attends the Lexington Center for Recovery, shared his thoughts with a large crowd at a drug-abuse meeting at the Chappaqua Library on Tuesday, April 29.

He said it is it's “disgusting how many people use heroin,” adding a mention about the number of his friends who still use it.

Kathryn Valencia, who is director of quality assurance at the Lexington Center for Recovery’s, called Ames’ story “so common it’s scary.”

“It's very, very scary,” she added.

Dominic Chianese, Jr., who is also a recovering addict, does not feel that being so is permanent.

“There's a solution and we do recover,” he said.

Aside from physical addiction, Chianese also noted the mental and emotional connections when he spoke.

Several speakers offered advice, including preventative action.

Nan Miller, a coordinator for Mount Kisco Partners in Prevention, focused on advice that adults can use with kids. They includes staying involved with children – examples are knowing their friends and monitoring their school work – having consequences for alcohol or drug usage, communicate about the dangers, talk with a prescribing doctor about limiting the pain pill dosage and making sure that medication is secured.

Melvin Berger, who is also involved with the Mount Kisco group, recalled how he got involved with drug treatment. A pharmacist by profession, Berger talked about being given forged prescriptions, which are illegal. He recalled going to the local court, where a person he had arrested was facing charges. Berger would return to court and developed a relationship with a judge. Eventually, Berger took on a volunteer role where he would fill a counseling role. Usually, Berger would ask a defendant to get an evaluation. Berger’s system, which began in Mount Kisco, was subsequently adopted in Bedford’s local court.

Berger also mentioned judicial outcomes that allow for people to avoid convictions if they stay on good behavior.  Examples include the conditional discharge and the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD).
Bedford Town Justice Erik Jacobsen, who has known Berger for years, encouraged people to volunteer, which is what Berger does.

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