Increased Drug Use

Snellings: Higher Use Of Cocaine, Methamphetamine In Jamestown

Harry Snellings, Jamestown public safety director and police chief, discussing drug activity in the Jamestown area during a Health Care Action Team meeting Thursday. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

There is an increase in the use of cocaine and methamphetamine in the Jamestown area.

That is what Harry Snellings, Jamestown public safety director and police chief, said Thursday during a Health Care Action Team meeting. Snellings gave an update on the drug activity in the area, which includes an increase in cocaine and methamphetamine use. He said the methamphetamine is not being manufactured locally, but is coming via California from Mexico.

Snellings added that the amount of heroin being discovered by police hasn’t been increasing in recent months, but said it is still a major problem in the Jamestown area.

“The amount of heroin has leveled off. I hate to use that word because it is still here,” he said.

Snellings said there is also a concern over the mixing of drugs. He said there is a report from Rhode Island that cocaine had been mixed with fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, typically prescribed as an oral tablet or patch, and intended to manage severe pain.

According to the DEA, it is 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is more commonly known to be mixed with heroin.

Snellings said there is also a report from Indiana that references drugs being made to look like the children’s candy. According to a report in USA Today, illegal drug manufacturers are lacing candies such as SweeTarts and Smarties. A two-month investigation by the Greenfield Police Department ended with a Hancock County, Ind., man facing 10 felony charges for being in possession of more than 100 of the “candy” drugs, as well as several other drugs and drug paraphernalia. According to a news release from the Greenfield Police Department, SweeTarts or Smarties can become designer drugs when laced with anything from Xanax to heroin.

Snellings’ drug activity update led to HCAT members talking about the possibility of a methadone clinic being opened in the county. Methadone is an opioid medication that reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs without causing the “high” associated with the drug addiction.

Dr. Lillian Ney, HCAT chairwoman, said earlier this month the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene Gonzales-Sanchez, Hispanics United of Buffalo and Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas held a meeting at the Fredonia Incubator with county health officials about the drug epidemic. During the meeting, the health care officials discussed the possibility of establishing a methadone clinic in Dunkirk.

In a report submitted for the HCAT meeting, Andrew O’Brien, UPMC Chautauqua WCA chemical dependency director, said that hospital officials are exploring the possibility of establishing a methadone clinic. Ney said UPMC in Pittsburgh and at Hamot in Erie, both have methadone services available.

“I’m hopeful we get one. We need it,” Ney said.

Christine Schuyler, county Social Services commissioner and public health director, said it is easier in Pennsylvania for hospitals to provide methadone services than in New York state, which has more regulations.

“It is not as easy to set up shop here,” she said.

Schuyler said if a methadone clinic is established in the county, she said hopefully it will be a local grassroots community effort and not an outside agency looking to profit through a fee-for-service establishment.