Community Cafe in Honeoye is a response to the Substance Abuse Forum held last year

HONEOYE — After holding 20 forums throughout Ontario County addressing substance abuse, with a focus on the nationwide heroin epidemic, a new community gathering has been organized to further the discussion. 

Community Cafes — with the first slated from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Honeoye Public Library, 8708 Main St. — provide a space for community members to voice their substance abuse concerns and work toward solutions.

“We have seen an increase in awareness about the topic of substance abuse and, more importantly, people are breaking the stigma by having the conversation beyond just the forums,” said Petrea Rae, coordinator of the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. “People are beginning to understand that addiction can happen to anyone, and family and any community.”

Put together by the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, an initiative of the Partnership of Ontario County, the highly attended substance abuse forums have been considered a success by organizers. The events provide input from area law enforcement, counselors, family members who have experienced loved ones battling addiction, and addicts themselves. 

Statistics have also been made known at the events, including during the most recent Substance Abuse Forum held at Honeoye Central School in early December. At the time of the forum, there had been 27 drug-overdose deaths during 2016 in Ontario County. 

Diane Kellogg, the prevention educator of the Council of Alcoholism and Addictions of the Finger Lakes pointed out that after the December forum, a question circulating the community was, “What can be done?”

“The Community Cafe is the ‘and now what’ after a community forum,” Kellogg said. “After an event like the forum on substance abuse, which had multiple speakers sharing a vast amount of information, the audience often leaves feeling energized to do something, but not sure what that might be. … During the cafe, the community will come together and discuss concerns and strategies along with next steps.”

“I think we have a community ready to mobilize for action,” she added.

Aside from open discussion, Rae pointed out that the cafes are designed to have a brief educational component on a specific topic. She added that the Coalition is working on a series of strategies to address and prevent substance abuse, which will be a part of the Feb. 16 discussion.

Those strategies include the Monitor, Secure and Dispose Campaign, which involves encouraging the public to keep an eye on medications around the house and safeguard them from misuse. The discussion also includes the implementation of the medication take-back program, which allows community members a place to drop off unwanted medication.

In Ontario County, there are 11 medication drop-off locations. The unwanted medication is gathered by members of law enforcement and incinerated.

The Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Ontario County, which is looking for volunteers to join, meets at Wood Library, 134 N. Main St., Canandaigua on the third Wednesday of each month at 4 p.m. For more information on the Coalition and how to get involved, contact Rae at 585-396-4554 or at petrea.rae@gmail.com.

Rae also revealed that through conversations with family members of those struggling with addiction, the Partnership for Ontario County has decided to launch a support group called “Journey through Loss.” The group is intended to help those dealing with the loss of a relationship as a result of addiction. 

The group meets on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Renae Campbell at rcampbellcommunity@gmail.com or journeythroughlossontarioco@gmail.com.

For more information on where medication drop boxes are located, visit www.substanceabusepreventioncoalitionofontariocounty.com.

 

If you go

WHAT Community Cafe in Honeoye to discuss substance abuse and explore prevention efforts

WHEN Feb. 16, from 6-8 p.m.

WHERE Honeoye Public Library's Community Room, 8708 Main St., Honeoye

PARKING On the street or at the Richmond Town Hall parking lot

INFO Call the Partnership for Ontario County at (585) 396-4554