New drug blocks opiates’ effects

GREENPORT—Local officials convened a press conference at the Columbia County Public Safety Building November 20 to announce a collaborative program centered on the deployment of a new opiate blocking drug for the treatment of incarcerated addicts.

Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett stood in front of the cameras along with Columbia County Public Defender Robert Linville, PD Investigator Steven Berry and Twin Counties Recovery Services Executive Director Beth Schuster.

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Pictured at a recent press conference on Vivitrol are (l-r): Columbia County Public Defender Robert Linville, Public Defender’s Office Investigator Steve Berry and Twin Counties Beth Schuster and Sheriff David Bartlett. Photo by David Lee

The sheriff explained that the Public Defender’s Office came to him to propose a program to help people by curbing their appetite for opiates such as heroin. The drug, called Vivitrol, is a non-narcotic that blocks opiate receptors in a brain thus preventing the user from feeling the effects of an opiate. Vivitrol can also be used to dim the cravings of alcoholics.

“When a person who is addicted comes to jail, they are in their own little world of hell, the withdrawal is terrible. This drug could help a majority of people who have committed crimes from burglary to homicide to satisfy their addiction,” he said. The FDA-approved drug is manufactured by Alkermes, Inc., which will provide the initial shot as part of a scholarship program at no cost to the county or inmate.

In contrast to methadone, which has been used for treatment of heroin addiction, Vivitrol has no opiate effect and therefore no street value. And in contrast to Narcan, another opiate blocker used in cases of overdose, Vivitrol would be administered at the end of an inmate’s incarceration, when an addict is no longer using. Inmates are prescreened by Twin County Recovery Services and if they are willing and appropriate participants for the program they would given the first injection.

According to Ms. Schuster, Vivitrol is just one of many tools in the tool box. The addict is not obsessing and struggling with his or her cravings, so the person can concentrate on the work of treatment and recovery.

Participants must be willing. “The drug is part of a whole counseling program. You really have to be motivated and committed to intense counseling or a 12-step program,” she said.

“This is a great example of agencies working together in a comprehensive way,” said Mr. Linville. Columbia is only the fourth county in New York to undertake this program. The others are Albany, Orange and Suffolk.

At the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee meeting, November 19, Sheriff Bartlett said, “the heroin epidemic is big. And crack is coming back.” He expressed expectation that Vivitrol could block addiction to recreational drugs. It would only be administered to drug-abusers about to be released from jail and only on a volunteer basis.

“We need to stop the robbing and stabbing,” the sheriff said.

When inmates with a history of drug addiction are released from jail, they are directed to the Twin Counties Recovery program. “It’s a great program,” Sheriff Bartlett said. “I’m excited about it. Some former addicts are leading awesome lives.”

Jeanette Wolfberg contributed to this report.

Fight in front of child leads to arrest

By DIANE VALDEN

HUDSON—Marshean L. Wilmer, 37, of Hudson was charged with endangering the welfare of a child by Hudson Police Officer Christopher Duntz at 13 Fairview Avenue, November 13 at 9:44 a.m.

Mr. Wilmer was charged on an arrest warrant. He allegedly was involved in a physical fight with a woman in front of a child, the morning of November 9.

He was arraigned before City Judge John Connor and was released on his own recognizance to return to court at a later date.

Drugs/alcohol

The following face drug- and/or alcohol-related charges:

  • Cynthia Costello, 44, of West Stockbridge, MA, was charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), a class U misdemeanor, by Deputy Jerald Rowell, November 7 at 7:45 p.m. Columbia County 911 dispatched deputies to an accident on State Route 22 in Hillsdale. Ms. Costello was issued tickets returnable in Hillsdale Court November 25.
  • Richard L Colwell, 41, of Hudson was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance by Hudson Police Detective Christopher Filli at 302 Columbia Street, November 9 at 1:11 p.m. Police say Mr. Colwell possessed crack cocaine. He was released on an appearance ticket returnable in Hudson City Court December 8.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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Fire police gather for banquet. The Columbia County Fire Police Association held the first of what it expects to be an annual banquet, the evening of November 21 at the Chatham firehouse. Tom With, who serves in a variety of capacities with the state Volunteer Fire Police Association, was master of ceremonies. New officers were inducted and a 50-year-award was presented to Wilson McKay. Columbia County Supreme Court Judge Jonathan Nichols administered the oath of office. Pictured (l-r) are: Chaplain Daniel Herrick, 2nd Vice President Pat Lucas, President Richard Howard, 1st Vice President John Meehan, Treasurer Wilson McKay and Judge Nichols. Photo by David Lee

Troopers, Marines spread holiday cheer

SALT POINT—State Police from Troop K will join forces with the United States Marine Corps to make this holiday season enjoyable for less fortunate children in our community.

Troop K is currently collecting new, unwrapped toys at all 18 stations throughout Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties. The drive will concludes December 14.

On December 18, the U.S. Marine Corps will be at Troop K Headquarters to collect the donated toys and distribute them to local children so they too can experience the joy of Christmas.

For more information about Toys for Tots, or to make a monetary donation, visit http://toysfortots.org/default.aspx

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