Make effort to raise awareness

Last week was National Prevention Week, a time for communities to come together to increase awareness about substance abuse and mental health issues. Wednesday was dedicated to Prevention of Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse.

We are all aware that the use of heroin and opiates has risen to epidemic levels, and is devastating lives and families throughout the entire state and nation.

As co-chairman of the Senate’s Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, I am committed to doing everything possible to address this crisis head on. We need to make sure that treatment and recovery options are available to those who need them, and we need to make sure that proper support systems are in place to help reduce the risk of relapse.

Of course, prevention and awareness efforts are also key to eradicating this epidemic once and for all. The theme of National Prevention Week this year was “The Voice of One, the Power of All,” highlighting the need for all of us to come together – both individually and as a community – to offer our support to those dealing with this addiction, and to break the stigma that goes along with it. When people need help, they should not be ashamed to seek it.

One of the most important responsibilities of any elected official is to care for the most vulnerable members of our communities, including those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously, but no one person will end this epidemic. We all need to work together, and the first step is to bring more awareness.

There have been too many lives destroyed and loved ones lost to heroin and opiate abuse. Everyone knows someone – a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor – who has been affected by this deadly addiction.

Let’s all make an extra effort to increase awareness. We can all be a voice for those who can’t be a voice for themselves.

Sen. GEORGE AMEDORE,

R-Rotterdam

46th Senate District