Drug outreach forum held at JCC North Training Center

Your voice matters.

That was the message heard loud and clear during the family forum on drug addiction held Tuesday night at the Jamestown Community College North Training Center.

Parent Consultant Suzanne Sennett made that very clear as she began the meeting.

“This is a statewide activity to get more parent and youth input,” she said. “We want to help pull together material for parents as a guide to navigate the system.”

Sennett listed the two major purposes of the meeting.

“We want to direct parents’ voices around what should happen,” she said. “We want to create more of a road map.”

The idea was to allow people a safe place to come and talk. The meeting gave people the ability to voice their own concerns and ideas about how organizations like Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services can improve how they handle the large problem of drug abuse.

Some of the issues addressed at the meeting were age barriers, lack of information, not getting results, insurance issues, cross-system issues, detox availability, affordability, lack of treatment options, lack of public knowledge, community mindset and education.

Meeting attendees would like to see education for the general public and doctors so they can be able to recognize addiction at an early stage and direct people to rehab.

Other changes they would like to see implemented include: promoting addiction as a disease, immediate information for scared parents, access to accurate information, long-term commitment, respect, an immediate open door to anyone looking for help, and a way for the community to get involved.

The idea of a crisis phone line proved popular, while the question of what to look for and how to address denial was a big topic.

“The whole community is coming together to save our children,” Sennett said. “I am very happy the government is reaching out to parents and telling us how to build bridges.”

It was her opinion that everyone’s story is different and important and she would like to see the community come together.

Chautauqua Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Council Executive Director Pat Munson wants people to be aware that addiction is a disease and can be treated.

“Recovery is possible,” she said. “There is hope.”

Munson stated that her organization firmly believes in its motto.

“We firmly believe in offering people hope, providing awareness, being an advocate,” she said. “People who are afraid to come forward need to go online and get information.”

Munson pointed out fear will keep you stagnant.

“You need to reach out and learn about what is going on in your family,” she said. “You need to try and help them.”

Munson addressed a good place to start is to seek counsel.

“We are totally non-judgmental and provide total confidentiality,” she said. “If you came in and talked to me I wouldn’t approach you outside; I would allow you to come to me.”

A second parent forum will take place through OASAS at Jamestown Community College in the Carnahan Theater today at 6 p.m.

Comments on this story may be sent to jwillis@observertoday.com