Members of an anti-drug nonprofit in Watertown head to Capitol Hill this week. The group wants U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer to help fight the heroin crisis and the ways its affecting Jefferson County.
Since 2011, there have been 79 deaths caused by heroin and opiate overdose in Jefferson County.
Anita Seefried-Brown’s own son died of a heroin overdose a day after he turned 33. He left a young daughter behind.
She says addiction is a disease, and it hurts more than just friends and families of the addicted.
“It affects business, tourism and also on the flip side it encourages drug dealers to come to our area," she said.
Seefried-Brown is the community director of PIVOT, a nonprofit that works to prevent drug and alcohol abuse in Jefferson County.
While in Washington D.C., group leaders will present the lawmakers with results from a recent survey showing a growing number of young people in the county have reported using opiates.
“We’re asking our elected officials to fund the interventions we know work.”
She says Watertown needs a detox and recovery center for people who want to get off the drug. Housing for those leaving rehab or jail after a drug conviction could keep past-offenders off the streets. Seefried-Brown says an intensive after-care program will help people stay off the drug.
“They need to know that Watertown, this beautiful old city, has experienced so many deaths, so much tragedy,” Seefried-Brown said.
PIVOT members are also meeting with Assembly woman Addie Russell to push for more state funding to fight heroin addiction.