RENSSELAER COUNTY – As communities continue to lose their lives because of the deadly and growing opioid epidemic, the US Attorney's Office is working with Rensselaer County to conduct a series of events hopes will strengthen public understanding of opioid use, abuse and dependency in the hard-fought community.
The new partnership also includes the Department of Health, the Sheriff's Office, the district attorney's office, the Rensselaer County Heroin Coalition, the state police and school counties around the county, and will focus on prevention and response to the deadly epidemic.
"We are experiencing the deadliest drug epidemic in the history of our country," said US Attorney Grant C. Jaquith.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50, and about two-thirds of these deaths are attributable to opioid overdoses of prescription painkillers, as well as to illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.
See below for a list of events
- 27. March: Maple Hill Junior & Senior High School – Evening Community Event
- 6. April: School district of Averill Park – evening church meeting  May 1: Catholic school – evening communitywide event
- 17. May: Troja City School District – Day Meeting for High School Students and Evening Community Event
- 17. May: Rensselaer City & East Greenbush School Districts – Daytime Junior & High School Gatherings + Joint Evening Community-wide Event
- Additional May 2018 Dates Still to Be Announced
The US law firm decided to partner with Rensselaer County on the matter A screening of "Hunting the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict" – a documentary on behalf of the FBI and the US Drug Administration – was held at Hudson Valley Community College last January.
"Rensselaer Cou nty has taken some really big, strong steps to tackle the crisis and they are doing it in a way that we do not always see in other counties, with their local government, the sheriff's office and So on, "Assistant US attorney Richard Southwick said.
Rensselaer County, like many inland communities, has been struggling to stem the epidemic. In 2016, there were a record 33 deaths from opioid overdoses, and in 2017, it was 30, district spokesman Rich Crist said.
"There were record numbers of families in Rensselaer County who were affected by the opioid epidemic with too many deaths overdoses and injurious, life-changing addictions," said County Executive Steve McLaughlin.
The events include both day school and evening events around the community. All will include a consideration of "Hunting the Dragon," followed by an interactive podium that will discuss the local effects of the epidemic.
Panelists will include parents whose children are addicts, a young person who is addicted and in treatment, school counselors, treatment counselors, first responders, sheriff's deputies, and New York State Troopers, an Assistant US Attorney District Attorney, a pharmacist, a funeral home, a recovery trainer, people in recovery and students who are committed to alcohol and drug-free.
School districts are invited to hold meetings and community-wide events. Visit the county website for up-to-date information, or call County Health Department at 518-270-2626.