Heroin Epidemic

MAHOPAC, N.Y . — As the heroin crisis in the region continues, Drug Crisis in Our Backyard hosted a forum at Mahopac High School Tuesday night to keep the issue out in the open.

Drug Crisis In Our Backyard was founded by two families who lost their sons to drugs within weeks of each other in 2012 and decided this was an issue the community needed to discuss.

“New York is one of the worst states in the country affected by heroin,” co-founder Susan Salomone said. “We have people in this audience who have lost their children. Thank you for coming out here and not hiding in secrecy. This disease needs to be out in the open so our loved ones can get help.”

Putnam County Assistant District Attorney Joe Charbonneau said fatal overdoses in Putnam County went from 7 in 2010 to 20 in 2012, though they decreased to 14 in 2014.

In 2012, Putnam County handled 409 narcotics related cases and in 2014, they handled 320. In 2014, the average overdose age in Putnam County was 41.

“We are kidding ourselves if we think this is a problem limited to our children,” Charbonneau said. “We are trying to redefine the heroin narrative. It’s no longer the kids who misbehave or hang with the wrong crowd. Addiction can strike any person. We all have to be aware of the symptoms.”

Charbonneau said there is no such thing as a bad batch of heroin.

“Every time someone tries heroin, they run the risk of overdosing,” Charbonneau said. “They are chasing a high every time they try it and run the risk of a fatality.

People acquire drugs from their friends and classmates more than dealers, Charbonneau said.

“It’s vitally important that we educate our young people,” Charbonneau said.