Saying they are frustrated and alarmed by the ongoing opioid crisis, leaders in the town of Gates have opened a drop-in center for people fighting addiction.
Every Thursday night, the Gates Recreation Center meeting room is open to both individuals looking for help for their addiction, as well as their family and friends.
There they will get information about available treatment and support programs from representatives of local support group Recovery Now NY and the Unity Chemical Dependency program.
"I know the pain people go through; I've experienced it,” said town supervisor Mark Assini. “I know the trauma it puts a family through and I want people to know that instead of being alone and suffering in silence, there's help."
Assini’s own sister had a heroin addiction. Now, he sees the same crisis gripping his community.
"It's an epidemic that is continuing to escalate. It's not ramping down, it's ramping up; it's getting worse."
Gates police chief James VanBrederode is still waiting for information from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office on the number of heroin-related deaths in 2016. He believes there have been at least as many this year, if not more.
"You're rolling the dice every time you shoot heroin because the problem is, the heroin you think you're buying really isn't heroin,” he said. “Most of it is coming back as Fentanyl, and that's the deadly stuff."
The town’s new drop-in center is called "Gates to Recovery". It runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and it’s open to everyone, not only residents of Gates. August 3 was the first night. VanBrederode said about 5 or 6 people came in. He encourages people not to be nervous about taking advantage of the service.
"We're not here to arrest people for possessing this stuff; our goal is to get you into some sort of rehab to save your life. I can tell you, as the police chief of a community, people are dying daily from this stuff and it's so sad."
Opioid overdose prevention training will be offered once a month at the center.