Drug abuse resource program becomes permanent in Gates

Drug abuse resource program becomes permanent in Gates (WHAM PHOTO)

GATES, N.Y. -- A new approach to end the opioid crisis appears to be working in Gates.

A resource program called "Gates to Recovery" has been extended permanently to anyone struggling with substance abuse.

"You name it, I did it," said Kenneth Mathis of Rochester.

Mathis is celebrating 24 years free of drug use. He says the road to recovery has been a freeing process.

"I'm a recovering addict and I want to learn more," Mathis said.

Mathis spent his Thursday night in Gates Town Hall learning about the resources available to the public to combat the opioid epidemic.

In an unprecedented move, the town of Gates and the non-profit "Recovery NOW New York" have partnered to launch a permanent program called "Gates to Recovery."

Gates public buildings will be open every Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for anyone struggling with addiction. Participants can be counseled, guided to a suitable treatment plan, or enroll in a detox facility if needed.

"We send people to Utica, Schenectady, Saranac Lake, wherever we can find a bed," said David Attridge, Executive Director of Recovery NOW New York.

Attridge says beds are hard to find in Rochester, often only available 25 at a time.

"We can not arrest our way out," said Monroe County Sheriff-elect Todd Baxter. "We will do arrests and enforce the law, but we also need to be out there championing the non-profits that are trying to get their beds ahead of time."

As Sheriff, Baxter says he'll be taking an aggressive approach next year to uncover drug hot spots while focusing on young adults.

"About the average age of death last month was 30 years old," Baxter said. "D.A.R.E. programs are in fifth grade. So, we are taking a look at what we can do to educate the public that are adults."

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