By Melissa Stagnaro
Special to The Evening Sun
CHENANGO COUNTY – It all started when I was injured and my doctor prescribed me opiate medication for my pain.’
That’s the story that James Everard, coordinator of Chenango County’s Drug Treatment Court, says he has been hearing from heroin addicts for the last five years.
As someone who has dedicated his career to aiding the recovery and rehabilitation of people with drug and alcohol issues, Everard has great insight into the drug problem in Chenango County.
News of a drug bust or an overdose may cause a stir when it hits the headlines, but according to Everard, the severity of the problem – and its impact on the community – is something the general public doesn’t realize.
“I think they would be shocked,” he said.
According to Everard, Chenango County started seeing an influx in heroin use around 2008. That’s when, in an effort to crack down on prescription drug abuse, New York State started holding doctors more accountable for the medication – particularly narcotic painkillers – they prescribed.
“A lot of the people who could no longer get those drugs started using heroin,” explained Chenango County District Attorney Joseph McBride, which was a cheaper option to feed their opiate addiction.
Since then, use of heroin has become the county’s biggest drug concern.
“You can find heroin in every community, big or small, in Chenango County,” Everard said.