LOCKPORT, N.Y. — Niagara County Legislator Owen Steeds relates a startling example of how prevalent opiate use is among young people.
"We see a lot of kids with candy parties, as they say, which I though a candy party was just that candy. But they're pills mixed in and the kids mix the medication up. And they're talking the pills," Steed said.
Steed, along with Acting U.S. Attorney James Kennedy, Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour and other Niagara County officials gathered on Thursday to launch the county's latest offensive in the battle against opiate addiction.
As part of National Take Back Day on Saturday, county residents can turn in unwanted and unneeded prescription drugs at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston.
"Kids steal from their grandparents, they go into medicine kits, they take prescription drugs to either sell them or use them. Any pills that are unwanted in your household, we're giving you an opportunity to get rid of those medications in a safe way, safe from the people who might use it and safe from the environment," said Voutour.
Niagara County officials say it's just one part of a multi-tiered approach to the crisis that involves prevention as well as treatment.
"Most of the outpatient treatment programs have expanded, the number of slots available for substance abuse treatment services and transition to an open access process,” said Laura Keleman, director of the Niagara County Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “If somebody decides today they want treatment, they can walk into one of the outpatient treatment programs, sit down and meet with a counselor will do an assessment and hopefully link them with the care that they're looking to do.”