It’s been a rough week for Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck.
“We had ten overdose cases within our community throughout the entire Cayuga County area unfortunately, so we’re continuing to have to address this issue that’s ongoing,” Schenck said.
Cayuga County Sheriff Brian Schenck addresses opioid epidemic (video)
So far this year, there have been at least 120 overdoses in Cayuga County. That’s at least 18 each month. So far four have been fatal, and more than 17% are suspected to involve opioids, according to data from the Sheriff’s Office.
And it’s not something Schenck takes lightly.
“It makes me feel like we need to continue to step up our efforts to combat this issue in not just our law enforcement efforts, but our efforts when it comes to prevention and our efforts when it comes to treatment,” Schenck said. “In Cayuga County we have some great organizations for people that need help that are dealing with substance use disorder.”
Auburn-based recovery organization growing
Like Nick’s Ride 4 Friends, a place where those who have been through addiction themselves, can help those battling substance abuse disorder.
“Nick’s ride started out in 2016 as an effort to offer an alternative to what I believe is formalized treatment,” said Executive Director Ashley Short. “Peer services are people who have lived experiences with either mental health or substance use disorders. What they do is they help folks navigate the whole continuum, so from active addiction and seeking recovery, through all the different levels of formalized treatment care.”
This space used to host meetings is located in an Auburn building that was recently donated to the group, said Short. The grassroots organization continues to thrive and gain momentum.
Peer advocates share their stories with those battling addiction
Randy Smith is a peer advocate with a story to tell.
“I got in some trouble and struggle with substance abuse, I ended up in the Auburn area,” Smith said. “I was involved in the jail.”
Now, he talks to those who are sitting where he once was.
“I work a couple days up at the jail and I also run a combat recovery program down here at the gym because I’m a retired professional fighters and I fought for 47 fights before I relapsed,” Smith said.
Related: Cayuga County implementing Medication Assisted Treatment for addicted inmates
Addiction doesn’t discriminate
And if there’s one message the crew at Nick’s Ride would like to send, it’s this:
“Lose the judgment,” Short said. “That’s a really good place to start. It’s so easy to blame a person for something they’re afflicted with versus taking into consideration the context and the circumstances.”
Sheriff Schenck tells us he hopes to continue working with Nick’s Ride and offers advice for anyone battling addiction.
“Keep pushing forward trying to find that support that seems to work for you and if something doesn’t, find another organization and just keep moving forward trying to find that help that you need,” Schenck said.
Related: INSIDE THE FLX: HEALing Community Study tackles opioid abuse in Auburn and Cayuga County (podcast)
Rebecca is a veteran multimedia journalist serving as one of our core reporters in the Finger Lakes region. She is responsible for telling stories that matter to every day Upstate New Yorkers. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].