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Finding hope, healing, and freedom for women stuck in the trap of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction. On this special edition of Need to Know, we examine the underbelly of this deadly cycle in our region. We also hear from those working in the trenches to empower women in communities throughout Rochester who feel lost and forgotten. And, a timely Call to Action for area political leaders the community-at-large.

The heroin and opioid epidemic, recently declared a national public health emergency, is a problem surrounded by questions. Experts join Need to Know's Hélène Biandudi Hofer to help make sense of some of the most pressing questions and concerns in relation to addiction, treatment and support.

206 - that is the number of deaths in 2016 related to heroin, opioids, fentanyl, and related substances within the ten counties served by the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s office. That’s a number that grew 142 percent from 2015 to 2016.

It’s also a number that the Polito family of Rochester, like countless others, feared would include their own child, Mary Jo. In 2016 they learned their daughter was addicted to heroin and life as they knew it changed.

The Polito family’s story is one that may resonate with many watching this broadcast. And it’s a story Mary Jo herself wanted to share solely in the hopes of helping to save at least one life.

It’s a problem that’s not going away, in fact, it’s only getting worse. The heroin and opioid crisis in the Rochester region is taking lives, destroying families and neighborhoods, and shattering dreams.

On this edition of Need to Know we hear from addicts trying to reclaim their lives, a family with a message for others struggling to help their loved ones, experts working to peel away the layers of addiction and the women of a special coffee shop whose once broken dreams are being rebuilt.

The heroin and opioid epidemic is taking the lives of young and old in our region...and it’s only getting worse.

Thursday, November 2 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV is a special edition of Need to Know as addicts, families, and people involved in grassroots efforts speak out to help peel back the layers of addiction and provide a path for support.

Heroin has exploded as a problem in the United States, and it doesn't discriminate: rural communities, city neighborhoods. WROC-TV's Adam Chodak recently reported on several aspects of the problem in Rochester, along with the debate over solutions. Drop-off treatment centers? Needle exchange? Read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

We discuss the various approaches with our guests:

  • Adam Chodak, WROC-TV anchor
  • Matt Woodring, advocate and former addict
  • Miguel Melendez, special projects director for Ibero-American Development Corporation

Mothers of young men and women addicted to heroin are frustrated with the way insurance companies view the plights of their children. A growing group of mothers is arguing for more consistent coverage from insurance companies, as their children try to overcome their addictions and save their own lives.

The moms have put together a community forum to help family members deal with the industry. On Connections, they share their struggles while we discuss options for families in need.

Our guests include parents Donna Rose, Kathy Miller, Becky Baker, and Avi Israel

Presidential contender Chris Christie recently spoke at length about drug addiction during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. His comments about the need for fairness went viral. Now the Obama administration's drug czar, Michael Botticelli, is essentially saying the same thing.

What does this mean for the future of treatment? What works, and what doesn't? Our panel explores it. Our guests:

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School starts for most districts this week and next, and it’s the first time when New York Schools can supply their nurses with a drug to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. Many districts are still weighing the pros and cons of the decision, but nurses in Dansville had a Naloxone training session Wednesday. 

Naloxone is a drug that  stops an opioid  overdose. State legislators created new rules and funding that allows districts to stock the medication in the case of an overdose on school grounds.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s the equivalent of one bottle of prescription painkillers for every adult American. Meanwhile, 46 people a day die from an overdose of those same painkillers. That’s why New York State is trying to curb the problem of over prescribing.

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