Mental Health Association Fights Against Drug Stigma, Pushes Available Resources


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JAMESTOWN – With a recent increase in drug overdoses in Chautauqua County, the Mental Health Association is discussing the importance of becoming educated and rising against the stigma surrounding drugs.

Overdose Peer Advocate Allison Murphy says drug overdoses have become a prominent issue locally and COVID-19 has only fueled this problem.

“I think there is an uptick in overdoses, because it seems there is a lot more people losing their jobs, a lot more homelessness, I think it has a lot to do with COVID because we are so used to being together, leaving people feeling alone,” said Murphy.

She says rising drugs in this fatal epidemic are heroin, fentanyl, and meth.

It’s not clear where the drugs originate from, however, Murphy says they state that a lot of the activity has been reported in Jamestown and Dunkirk.

She suggests people fail to get help due to a stigma that surrounds drug abuse.

“There is a barrier, a lot of people carry a lot of shame with their substance use,” explained Murphy. “A lot of people don’t have family or support, especially a lot of younger people as well.”

The MHA wants to make it known that their services are free and available to anyone in need.

Having a peer who understands the hardships of drug addiction can be positively life altering. They offer a variety of services ranging from counseling to Narcan training.

The community can get involved by becoming educated on the signs and symptoms of drug abuse to lessen the gap causing this fatal stigma, as Murphy explains addiction can happen to anyone.


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