ALBANY, N.Y. – Prescription drug and heroin abuse is on the rise, and multiple local agencies are partnering to combat the problem.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said 25 percent of the county jail’s population is behind bars because of drug-related charges. He said in the past year, the Capital Region has seen nearly double the drug related arrests from previous years.
Julianne Malin’s son developed a drug addiction after he got hurt playing sports.
“I did not know my son was doing it,” she said. “I really didn’t. They can hide it very well.”
Her son was a 17-year-old varsity football player. He had surgery following an injury and was prescribed opiates for his pain.
Keith Stack is the Executive Director for the Addiction Care Center of Albany.
“Innocently enough, it’s an athletic injury,” he said. “It’s in their family’s medicine cabinet.”
Malin said her son switched to heroin when he ran out of prescription medication. That’s when she noticed changes.
“His entire personality changed,” she said. “He quit school, he got withdrawn; secretive.”
She also said items around the house such as jewelry, money and electronics began to disappear to feed her son’s addition.
“It’s back with a vengeance, and it’s as bad as everybody says and then some,” Apple said.
Apple said heroin abuse and drug-related crimes are on the rise.
“Cause most people are out there stealing and assaulting and burglarizing and doing everything to feed their addition,” he said.
Apple said it’s a tough battle that’s destroying families, but Stack said the battle is not lost.
“Call a treatment center,” Stack advised. “There is a whole host of different providers within the Capital District that can help.”
Project Safe Point is a drug prevention service program that provides Overdose Prevention Rescue Kits to families. The kits contain naloxone, a drug that instantly reverses the effects of opiates to provide life-saving time during a potential overdose before EMTs arrive.
“We don’t have to just arrest. We really want to help people,” Apple continued. “That’s what we’re here to do. We are here to help people; not just throw him in jail.”
But for Malin, her goal was to get her son off drugs and not just save his life during an overdose, so she kicked him out of the house.
“I cried and cried and cried, but I knew I had to do it,” she said.
It tore her family apart.
“I felt compelled to defend my son where his sister was just really mad at him,” she continued. “It was rough. It was rough.”
In the end, it saved his life.
“It really finally made him realize that ‘I don’t like my life in addiction anymore,’” Malin said.
Contact Project Safe Point to obtain an Overdose Prevention Rescue Kit by calling (518) 449-3581 or visiting their website www.ccaidsalbany.org.
If a family member is in need of counseling or addiction help, contact the Hubbard Center at (518) 452-0001 or the Hope House at (518) 482-4673.