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The Curse of 27?

Submitted by: Jeanne Unger, Executive Director, Farnham Family Services

With the recent passing of musician Amy Winehouse, the Curse of 27, Forever 27, the 27 Club (names for a group of influential musicians who all died at the age of 27) has resurfaced.  Originally highlighted by the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison within a 10 month span of each other; this club includes many others who preceded and have since joined its ranks.

Is it true that there is a curse of 27?  One thing these musicians had in common was a history of drug use…and so, across the span of years, it seems “the more things change, the more they stay the same”….

Here we are 40 years later, still struggling with drug abuse and its impact in our society.   So really, what does the drug use picture look like locally, here in Oswego County?

Simply put, drug abuse has undergone a subtle, but dramatic change over the past decade.  Prescription drug abuse emerged early in this millennium and is now the 2nd most abused drug by teens behind marijuana. Tales of celebrities with Oxycontin or other legal painkiller abuse often filled the media with tales of opiate addiction. Opiate addiction is a fast growing trend we at Farnham are seeing in our work, esp. and most troublingly, with teens.  For those unfamiliar with this opiate, please note that Oxycontin is essentially synthetic heroin.

To make things more interesting (and to avoid testing positive on drug screens) we also have the synthetic marijuana trend locally and nationally. This is sold legally under names like Happy Shaman, K2 and Spice…. and, by the way, you can just walk around downtown Oswego to legally purchase it.   Be assured that while your kids may not know specifics of what it is (though many do), they do know that it is legal, and available in local stores (which must mean it’s okay to purchase and use)…

This spring, we had informational warning from Dr. Norfleet (Oswego Public Health Dept., following NYS Commissioner of Health issuing an order to ban its sale) about “Bath Salts”.  Bath Salts are a synthetic stimulant, also known as MDPV and most commonly abused by those in their early 20s.  It is not a bath product and concern increases as deaths related to its use continue to rise across the US.  Yes, this too is an issue in our community. And yes, it too had been sold legally, locally, prior to the May 2011 ban.

That’s the world we here at Farnham live in and are aware of.

This year we are celebrating our 40th year of providing services to this community.

As we celebrate 40 years of services, we continue to have the same challenges of drug abuse and addiction, but in new forms..… synthetic, legal marijuana, bath salts, and a changing health care environment, troubled economy….again, it seems the “more things change, the more they stay the same”…

We’d like to invite this community we have so closely worked with to celebrate our joint efforts to meet the needs of those who struggle with addiction for the past 40 years.   On October 29th we bring David Garibaldi back for a return engagement, following his successful, sold out performance here in 2009. Proceeds from this fundraiser go directly to support of our programs, (esp. those for youth) in our efforts to address the continuing issue of drug abuse and its impact in this community.  At a time when so many budgets cuts are occurring, this most vulnerable population’s struggles are significantly increasing.  The importance of our work focused on addiction prevention, treatment and recovery and helping teens through seniors has never been more critical.

The importance of your support and the difference it can make will help us change lives both for those who struggle with addiction as well as the life of our community.   So we ask you once again to join us, as you have for the past 40 years, in this endeavor because you CAN make a difference along with us—one day at a time, one life at a time.

Let’s keep working together for the health and wellness of our community.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the past 40 years is Farnham’s commitment to this community…. So as it’s been said…it seems that the “more things change, the more they stay the same”!

See you in October!