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Medina student plans forum on opioid epidemic on Jan. 30

Photo by Tom Rivers: Cody Crane, a senior at Medina High School, is pictured with Sherri Bensley, assistant director of prevention for GCASA. They have organized a forum on Jan. 30 at the high school about the opioid epidemic. Cody said he wants teen-agers and other community members to discuss the problem and seek help if they are struggling with addictions.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2018 at 4:42 pm

MEDINA – The Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is always looking for partners to promote prevention and education about addictions.

The agency has found a vocal advocate for education and ending the stigma of addiction in a Medina High School senior.

Cody Crane has worked with GCASA to plan a forum this Tuesday, Jan. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the high school.

Cody, 18, wants the community to talk about the opioid crisis which is affecting many local families. He especially wants high schoolers to be aware of the dangers of using painkillers and other opioids, and the destructive path of addiction that can result.

Tuesday’s program is titled, “Youth unite, battle the stigma.” GCASA staff will give an overview about the epidemic from 6 to 6:30 p.m., with some information about warning signs and understanding that addiction does not discriminate.

Then there will be a panel discussion for an hour. Cody and his mother Christine are on the panel. They have seen loved ones fight addiction. GCASA staff also will be on the panel, including Kathy Hodgins, director of treatment services for GCASA; and Tracey Zakes, a prevention educator for GCASA who works out of the Medina school district. Some people in recovery may also be on the panel.

The final half hour will include training on Narcan, an antidote to someone having an overdose. Narcan can reverse the effects of an overdose and often can save lives.

Cody reached out tot GCASA for the forum. All graduating Medina seniors need to complete at least 10 hours of service with an organization as part of a community service requirement. Cody wanted a forum that would welcome teen-agers. He wants them to be aware of the dangers of the opioid crisis, which has resulted in the deaths of many young people locally and numerous overdoses.

“This is something that needs to be talked about,” he said.

Sherri Bensley, assistant director of prevention for GCASA, said she worries about opioid addictions spreading. The county has “a huge underage drinking problem” and many of those people will gravitate to opioids, she said.

More conversation in the community about the problem should encourage people to seek help, and – she hopes – not get started with using drugs and opioids.

Those struggling with addictions – and their families who often are reeling from the chaos – need support and compassion, Bensley said.

“They’re human,” she said about people fighting addictions. “Somebody loves them. These are people who need love and support.”

The forum on Tuesday is open to everyone.

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