“Recovery Is Possible” Says County Executive On Mental Health, Drug Crises

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MAYVILLE – A virtual forum to address the drug epidemic and resources for recovery took place in Chautauqua County on Thursday. 

Dubbed the Hope and Healing Conference of Western NY, the event centered around self-care, creativity in drug prevention, treatment and recovery. 

As explained by County Executive P.J. Wendel, this comes at a time where overdose cases and drug related deaths in the area are increasing at an alarming rate.

He says isolation and fear in regards to the global pandemic may be playing a role in this increase.

“(As) we consider the landscape of behavioral health in our area, we can not overlook the data,” said Wendel.

The data he was referring to is a 54 percent increase in non-fatal overdoses from 2019 to 2020. There was an 18 percent increase in overdose fatalities during the same time period.

“As I’ve said before, we need to know these numbers, but we need to also have hope. Hope that there’s an effective prevention and hope that there are treatment options available, and hope that recovery is possible.”

Treatment options were addressed directly in the conference which featured a panel of esteemed U.S. and international speakers discussing the role of arts in addiction and mental health treatment. 

Other workshops throughout the day covered a wide variety of topics regarding mental health like mindfulness, vaping and a panel from Strong Starts Chautauqua County.

In the midst of the area’s drug crisis, Wendel sees conferences like this as a step in the right direction.

“Today’s conference is indicated of why we are well equipped to serve community members in need and build a healthier Chautauqua County. I trust that we can all do this together and I trust that we can heal,” said Wendel.

This is not the first time the county has addressed the local addiction recovery resources that are available, last fall leaders launched CombatAddictionCHQ.com as a resource for those in need.


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