Rensselaer County has not been spared from the current opioid crisis that has been devastating across the country. With the increase of opioid related deaths identified on our county for the past several years, the County Executive felt it was imperative to address this public health crisis with the formation of the Rensselaer County Heroin Coalition in March of 2016. In 2016, Rensselaer County saw an increase of 33 deaths: claiming the lives of 26 males and 7 females, ranging in age from just 22 up to 64. These numbers are up from 25 deaths in 2015. In 2017, we saw 30 deaths, 2 confirmed and 28 pending toxicology.
With the assistance and leadership from the Sheriff and the Public Health Director as co-chairs, the coalition has met 11 times and participated in 4 community wide events. At every meeting, we invite guest speakers who share their expertise in topics that allow the members to gain knowledge, ask questions and network. We also have guest speakers that share their personal experience with addiction, recovery and overdose.
With roughly 700 active participants and members, the coalition is comprised of county departments such as: Sheriff, Health Department, Mental Health, Probation, District Attorney’s Office, Employment and Training, Veterans, County Executive’s Office, Social Services, Public Safety, Legislature, Public Defender and Department of Youth. Some of the outside organizations are the DEA, NYS Senate, CEO, Law Enforcement Agencies, Hudson Valley Community College, Russel Sage, RPI, Siena, Questar, Unity House, Local School Districts, libraries, addiction and recovery centers, local hospitals, shelters in our community as well as those in recovery and family members who have lost loved ones. Our coalition works alongside and with 5 other community coalitions in the county: NOOPIATES, RADAR, Troy Drug Free Coalition, TRACs and Not in My Backyard. As you can see by the list of members, the Opioid Crisis does not discriminate in whose life it reaches touches and ultimately effects. This coalition successfully collaborated with the NYS Funeral Directors Association to develop literature which is provided to families after the loss of a loved one and the direction needed to safely dispose of unused medications. Additionally, the coalition participated in the state wide Dental Symposium, is organizing Narcan trainings at Stewarts Shops locations and at Troy Housing Sites, developing a 27/7 hotline for those who are seeking treatment and is collaborating with all school districts in Rensselaer County to kick off a “United To Fight It” campaign.
Meeting for two hours every 6 weeks, the coalition always has a guest speaker and has five sub-groups which meet during breakout sessions that work together to bring ideas and proposals back to the table. They include:
- Law Enforcement
- Treatment and Harm Reduction
- Community Education
Rensselaer County Heroin Coalition
Drug Takeback Days
Drop off boxes (permanent ones)
- Nassau Pharmacy: Located at 3541 US 20 Nassau NY 12123
- North Greenbush Police Department: Located at 133 Bloomingrove Drive Troy NY 12180
Sharp Disposal Sites
- Heroin Coalitions
- RADAR Coalition
- Troy Drug Free Community Coalition
- “Not In My Backyard” (Schodack area)
- TRACs (Berlin area)
Rensselaer County Drug Tip Line