Cortland forum to focus on heroin, prescription drug abuse

The following is a republished press release from Cortland Area Communities That Care and not an article written by The Cortland submit a press release, community announcement or information about an upcoming event, email Editor Peter Blanchard at

Community partners from across Cortland County are hosting a Community Forum focused on prescription drug and heroin abuse on Wednesday, July 27 at 6:30pm at the Cortland Elks Lodge, 9 Main Street, Cortland.

According to the 2015 Cortland County Youth Development Survey, 12% of 12th graders and 6% of 7-12 graders have used a prescription pain medication not prescribed to them. 24% of those who reported abusing prescription drugs got them from their home; 21% from a friend or relative for free. From research, we know that the earlier a child begins using drugs, the more likely they are to develop problem behaviors and become addicted.

The July 27 Community Forum will allow parents and concerned community members to come together and learn about the realities of prescription drug abuse and heroin use and leave with tips on how to address the issue. The event will include a resource fair, speaker line-up, NARCAN training and refreshments.

The event includes the following speakers:

Matt Whitman, CACTC Coalition Director, will present the 2015 Youth Development Survey Data relating to prescription drugs and heroin as well as risk and protective factors.

Lt. Todd Caufield of the Cortland County Sheriff's Office will give a law enforcement perspective about what is happening in Cortland County around the issue.

Michele Calivat of the Upstate New York Poison Center will speak about what they are seeing in Cortland and regionally.

Eric Confer and Joanne Sweeney will share personal stories of how drug use has impacted their lives.

Matt Whitman will discuss what is being done locally, regionally and state-wide to address opiate and heroin abuse. Linnay Harmer of Cortland Prevention Resource will speak about the upcoming Drug Take Back Event in September and the four permanent kiosks. Rebecca Smith of the Cortland County Health Department will talk about what the Health Department is doing, including NARCAN trainings.

As a parent or caring adult, it is important for you to know that there are ways you can help prevent your child from abusing prescription drugs. There are important intervention points when your child needs to hear from you.

Every year, Cortland Area Communities That Care conducts a survey of youth in Cortland County. In 2015, over 1,300 students in grades 7-12 were surveyed, providing community agencies and schools with valuable information to guide our activities. We will share some of this information with you and all attendees will go home with a brochure highlighting the 2015 data in easy to read visuals.

The event is organized by Cortland Area Communities That Care and co-sponsored by Cortland Elks Lodge 748, Cortland Prevention Resources, Family Counseling Services, Cortland County Health Department, SUNY Cortland Institute for Civic Engagement, Catholic Charities of Cortland County, City of Cortland Mayor’s Office, Cortland City Police Department, Homer Police Department, Cortland County Sheriff's Office, YWCA of Cortland, League of Women Voters of Cortland County, United Voices of Cortland and more.

Learn more at or visit the Facebook Event.