Over 300 attended Waddington opioid awareness event, 32 trained in giving Narcan
Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 1:28 pm

BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week

CANTON -- The public health director told the St. Lawrence County legislature on Monday night that about 300 people attended the “Shredding the Stigma” opioid awareness event last month.

And she said about 10 percent of them were trained in administering Narcan, a medicine that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The event was at Whittaker Park in Waddington on Aug. 24. The county arranged free public transportation to and from the park out of Massena and Ogdensburg. Former pro BMX rider Tony Hoffman talked about his struggles with addiction and recovery. And locals talked about their experiences with substance abuse.

"There were great presentations by Tony Hoffman. I thought he did a great job. He stayed to speak with people, like on a one-to-one basis,” Public Health Director Dana McGuire said. “He did the dedication at the end as well. He's a great guy. We had six people from the area talk about their situations. We had great questions."

She said of the 300, about 32 took a training course in administering Narcan, a brand name medication that is given as a nasal spray to reverse an opioid overdose.

"It kind of went off without a hitch. We put it together in six weeks and it went great,” McGuire said.

Legislator Kevin Acres, R-Madrid, also praised Hoffman’s presentation.

"It was really spellbounding,” Acres said. "He talked about how he started out as a really good athlete ... but he had a self-image problem and through this self-image problem he turned to drugs."

Legislator James Reagan, R-Ogdensburg, gave lengthy praise to McGuire and her department for not just the Shredding the Stigma event, but also their ongoing efforts to address the local opioid problem.

"It's not going to get over with immediately. It's going to take all our communities together, all our agencies pooling their efforts and find ways to help families and individuals deal with the long-term hard work that's going to be involved in helping prevent people from putting themselves and their families through this terrible epidemic,” Reagan said. "Your entire department deserves a lot of credit for that, and also the members of the Opioid Task Force … this is just another example of the efforts being made not just by your department, but by the chemical and substance abuse people."