How to solve the opioid crisis

by Maximilian Eyle

The prohibition of opioids in the United States has been raging for almost a century. The Anti-Heroin Act of 1924 began the criminalization of importing and possessing opioids. Now, after countless people have been imprisoned and an immeasurable amount of money and resources have spent, have the opioids disappeared? No. On the contrary, we are in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Each year, the number of fatal opioid overdoses rises, with the CDC’s estimates for 2017 reaching a record 72,000 deaths. Let us be very clear: these are preventable deaths. Through legislative change and the implementation of proven harm reduction strategies, we have the option to adopt a drug policy based on compassion and evidence-based results rather than on punishment and propaganda.

The presence of opioids has become common throughout the United States. Some come from the black market and have been produced illegally and without government regulation, while others are prescribed and produced by registered pharmaceutical companies. A common misconception is that overdoses only stem from illegally produced opioids. In reality, a full 40% of these overdoses are due to prescription opioids. Incredibly, more than a third of Americans used a legally prescribed opioid in 2015. This number does not include illegal opioid use. This brings us to our first recommendation in the fight against opioid overdoses: Narcan should be in every household across America.

What is Narcan? Also known as Naloxone, this drug blocks the absorption of opioids at the receptor-level. Opioids effect our respiration, which is why someone suffering from an overdose may stop breathing. By pausing the effects of the opioids in the body, Narcan saves lives by restoring the person’s breathing. It is FDA approved and can be administered easily via a nasal spray. Even a child can do it. It was intentionally developed for use by those without medical training who may arrive at the scene first, such as friends or family. Narcan is not a replacement for calling 911, but can save the person’s life while EMTs are on the way.

Just as we have a fire extinguisher in every building and house to protect us in the event of a fire, we should also have Narcan readily available at all times. Harm reduction centers will often provide free Narcan kits and training to those who want it, and an increasing amount of other institutions are doing the same. The New York City government has even started distributing Narcan through a range of channels as part of its HealingNYC initiative.

Raising the availability and awareness of Narcan in our society is a powerful anti-overdose strategy. But legislative change must also be brought about if we truly hope to disrupt the opioid epidemic. Prohibition is a primary driver of overdoses and actually exacerbates the harm that these drugs can cause. We know that banning opioids does not make them disappear. On the contrary, it drives their use and production underground which is far more dangerous. Users do not know the content, strength, or dosage of what they are ingesting. Imagine if every time you needed cough syrup – it came in an unmarked bottle and was always either stronger or weaker than the last time you bought it. Obviously, the chances of you accidentally taking too much would skyrocket. Alcohol is also a potentially dangerous drug, but we learned in the 1920s that prohibiting it only made things worse.

Clearly, some form of regulated access would be preferable to the current system. This has already been tried and proven to work in many other countries, particularly in Europe. Switzerland’s program has gained considerable attention as a success story. Starting in the 1990s, “Zurich became the first place in the world where therapy programs handed out heroin prescriptions to heavy and long-term opiate users for whom other substitutes wouldn’t work.” As a result, the rate of new users, new HIV infections, overdoses, and other problems associated with opioid use all plummeted.

It is up to us as voters and individuals to drive this change forward in the fight against opioid overdoses. The steps are relatively straightforward: Equip yourself with Narcan and learn how to administer it (it’s very simple). Vote for candidates who support harm reduction measures and non-prohibitionist approaches to our drug policy. Getting “tough on drugs” has only made things worse – it’s time for compassion and pragmatic change. Lastly, support your local harm reduction centers. By tackling overdose prevention, HIV and HCV testing, sex education, syringe access, and more – these facilities do wonders for the communities they serve.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at maxeyle@gmail.com.

United by the Music

United by the Music
by Félix Martínez Marrero

What is trova and how did it become part of typical Puerto Rican music? When is it heard? The trova is the poetic composition composed to be sung. It is the typical music of our ancestry. The trova is significant as a cultural expression. It is heard all year, although some relate it mostly to the Christmas season.

Like most Puerto Ricans who emigrate to the United States in search of a prosperous future for their families, 48 years ago, my parents and their 11 children did the same. One of those children was me. Although I came to Rochester as a young man, I have never stopped longing for my beautiful island, our culture and the neighborhood where I was born. That’s how music became my refuge, becoming the consolation of longing for the soil where I was born. From here came my dream of one day to record a CD of typical music. The years went by and I continued to be involved in music with Pedro Núñez, the Maso Rivera of Rochester who may rest in peace and Marcos Santiago, among others. Even if the temperature was below zero, I did not miss a “parranda”.

Six years ago I started trying to make my dream come true, but for one reason or another I could not achieve it. One day, talking with my wife Margarita, I decided to start communicating with friends who are involved in the music to see if I could achieved my purpose. I spoke with my friend Eliú De Jesús in Florida, who put me in touch with Josean Feliberty Colon in Puerto Rico and I from Rochester, NY, how would we achieve this get-together? It was this way that JFC Home Studio in Ciales, PR, Freddygeezstudio in Rochester, NY, and EDR Studios in Groveland, FL, joined by the music and started my long-awaited project. We started to decide which topics we would include: seises, aguinaldos, trullas… The recordings began in three different studios, “UNITED BY THE MUSIC”. Everything was ready with plans to go on the market in October 2017 and Hurricane María hit PR. It was necessary to postpone the release of the CD.

Originally the CD included eight songs. During the wait and hearing about the suffering of our Puerto Rican brothers, we were inspired by the last song which became the number one on the CD “Puerto Rico Rise Up” (Puerto Rico se Levanta in Spanish). Now the CD contains nine songs with five styles of six, three aguinaldos and a trulla. Each one with an original message of nostalgia for the country, a love story, a biblical message, a cultural controversy, a tribute to Don Pedro Núñez, among others. By obtaining this CD, you will join us, through music, to promote our cultural heritage and although far from the Puerto Rican soil, we will always carry it proudly in our hearts.

The Perils of Smoking

by Adrián Martínez

Many of you have heard through school, the news, or your medical providers that smoking has the potential to cause or worsen many diseases, ranging from heart and lung disease to various forms of cancer. In fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicate that smoking can significantly increase risk of developing heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, which are among the leading causes of death for Latino people (1). With this in mind, it is understandable why healthcare providers are encouraging their patients to quit smoking. Unfortunately, the Latino population has lower access to health insurance than white Americans, which means they have less access to healthcare providers and the treatments that may be offered to help quit smoking.

According to surveys from the United States Census Bureau, smoking rates vary among the Latino subpopulations. About one in five Puerto Ricans and Cubans admit to cigarette smoking, which is about twice the rate of Central and South Americans; among all groups, men are more likely to smoke daily than women (2). This can reflect more social acceptance of smoking in those groups with higher rates, which in itself can result in more difficulty for people in those groups to quit. Part of the process of quitting involves avoiding environments in which you might be more likely to smoke a cigarette. If you are surrounded by people who smoke, it is much harder to avoid the temptation of smoking. Surround yourself with people who can support you in your efforts to quit, and encourage your loved ones to quit alongside you.

What methods are there to quit smoking? Besides attempting to do so on your own, you have a few options from which to choose. Nicotine replacement therapy includes nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal sprays. Other treatments include the medicines varenicline and bupropion, both of which reduce cravings for nicotine and have other helpful effects. All these medications come with their own side effects, which you should discuss with your healthcare provider. Do not be discouraged if you are unable to quit using one of the medications; quitting is a process that requires effort and persistence. If you are interested in quitting, make an appointment with your primary care provider or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) for guidance and support.

References
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital Signs: Leading Causes of Death, Prevalence of Diseases and Risk Factors, and Use of Health Services Among Hispanics in the United States—2009–2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2015;64(17):469–78.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disparities in Adult Cigarette Smoking—United States, 2002-2005 and 2010-2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2016;65(30).

Adrian Martinez is a Puerto Rican born in California and raised in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida. He graduated in 2014 from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Biology and is currently a fourth-year medical student attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is on the executive board of the school’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and will be pursuing a career in psychiatry.

Catholics must Demand Change

Catholics must Demand Change after Sex Abuse Scandal
by Maximilian Eyle

In light of the recent scandal in Pennsylvania regarding the systematic sexual abuse of children by priests – Catholics everywhere must ask themselves a question: how can the Church be held accountable? It has been proven in court that the Church itself helped cover up these crimes, and the New York Times reports that the blame reaches all the way up to the Vatican. If Catholics are going to continue to associate themselves with the Church, they must demand accountability for these years of abuse.

This is far from the first time this has happened. In 2002, the Boston Globe uncovered another large-scale cover up of child sexual abuse by priests that had been going on for years. Under the past Pope, the Cardinal who helped cover up the abuse in Boston was moved to Italy to serve as archpriest of a large and popular Basilica in Rome. This behavior is criminal, and inexcusable in any context. For an institution that claims to offer moral guidance, they should be ashamed to take the side of the abuser instead of the victim.

Of course the majority of Catholics are disgusted by these events, but disgust is not enough. It is the moral obligation of every Catholic to demand that the institution they support change how it deals with sex abuse allegations. From 2004 to 2013, the Catholic Church paid almost $3 billion to victims of child sexual abuse – yet we know from the recent scandal in Pennsylvania that this money does not solve anything. No amount of money can account for the misery and sorrow that has been created by these abusive priests. Payouts and expressions of regret from the Pope are simply not enough. We must demand a Church that values the safety of children over its reputation.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at maxeyle@gmail.com.

How Wildlife Prepares for Winter in CNY

How Wildlife Prepares for Winter in CNY
by Collette Charbonneau
Provided by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

As the summer glow fades until next year, the warm colors of fall begin to appear. Soon, blankets of snow will cover the ground, the trees, and also our cars. As you shuffle from one building to the next, from one heated room to another, do you ever stop to wonder what is happening outside your window?

While you may not hear as many birds at 5am this time of year, those who have chosen to stick around and brave the temperature drop are still out there, hunkering down at night and waking up to a chilly, snowy froth above their heads each morning. They worked hard in the spring to build their nests and raise a new generation. But, most abandon their nests by fall, preferring to create a new nest the following Spring. They must now find ways to survive the winter and often have to get creative with finding an unoccupied bed for the night.

Cardinals are one common winter bird here in Central New York. The male’s bright red color is a welcome sight against the snowy backdrop. Like most birds, they do not sleep in nests during winter months. Walk outside, early in the morning, on a winter’s day and you might find a cardinal sitting deep in an evergreen tree. (These are the trees that keep their green needles all year long). This is the preferred winter home for cardinals.

Leave out your birdfeeder in the winter, well-stocked with sunflower seeds or a mix of seeds from a bag of local songbird food, and you just might see a cardinal, blue jay, or other winter resident in your yard. It is harder for them to find food in the winter so leaving food out for them all year is a good idea. Note: do not do this if you live in an area where black bears have been spotted. This will encourage them to leave their dens early (they can smell the food), which makes it nearly impossible for them to resume their deep sleep until Spring.

So what are those nests we see high in the treetops in the middle of winter? Let me give you a hint… think of the most common mammal seen in rural, suburb, and city neighborhoods.

Squirrels are the opposite of birds. They prefer to sleep in nests in the winter so they can get some relief against the cold, windy nights. They do not use these nests in the spring or summer. In early Spring, squirrel nests are sometimes destroyed by their creators or birds will swoop in and take what they need to make their nests.

Other mammals, including deer, mice, chipmunks, foxes, skunks, and opossums also need to find shelter (dens and burrows provide protection from wind, snow, and ice) and food in the winter. Giving them your patience, and plenty of space, will help ensure they get what they need too. Planting native bushes, shrubs, and nut-producing trees (oak, walnut, hickory, beech) can provide food for these animals too.

While taking steps to help wildlife in the winter shouldn’t turn into a feeding frenzy in your yard, if you are concerned, talk to your local town board or community association about creating a community garden/wildlife-friendly zone where the animals can safely gather foods and find shelter. I encourage you to look out your window, or step out onto the sidewalk one winter’s day, and look at all the wildlife around you. Winter is a time of rest, survival, quiet beauty, and perseverance that will be colorfully rewarded within just a few months.

Collette is on the board of People for Animal Rights (PAR). You can contact PAR at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.,
people4animalrightscny@gmail.com and peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org

Playing the blind chicken

A Moment of Reflection
by Lilia M. Fiallo

Playing the blind chicken…, until autumn arrives?

When you are Young you do not think about old age because that is not the theme, you live in another harmony there are other dreams, other illusions that surround our life while the years go by…

Maybe at twenty-five years, still not firm, because one is looking at other horizons, far from projecting to be in the shoes of a person seventy-five or more years old, much less imagine a physical disability at that age. In truth, nobody projects for old age and when it arrives, the same phenomenon happens that happens when you are young and yearning to be a child again, with the difference that you can’t.

When did the best years of my life go and I without saving? How nice it would be to go back to the past and start doing what I did not do but neither can.

Today I have to think about myself; think about saving for a for calm and peaceful future, that I can have money to pay for the services of an employee who accompanies me and does the trades that I will not be able to do, buy food, pay for services, cover unexpected expenses and monthly rent. Or maybe I look as strong as an oak and radiant as the light of day, no matter how my hair looks like a snowflake walking from right and with firm step with seventy-five years or more, without having to depend on anyone.

Whatever the future today I have to think about myself; not to spend the last years of my life in an asylum for grandparents, where loneliness is alive walking through the corridors the past torments, and to top it all, nobody remembers to visit to those beings that were once loved.

Sometimes we carry responsibilities of close relatives to never end, while they observe us, and what we least imagine happens; these characters take possession of material goods that we have achieved through years of work and sacrifice, and like the dilapidated and old furniture that no longer serves, we end up mistreated and ignored in the last corner of our home.

Today I have to think about myself and put the reason before throwing myself in the mouth of the wolf, so as not to be like Simon, alone widower and without illusion, that one day, he thought he would win over his children and grandchildren by distributing the money he had amassed in company of his wife. In a moment of foolishness he gave every last cent of his children and the children of his children, believing that he had bought everyone’s’ heart and found himself imprisoned in his own trap. Nobody visits him anymore, nobody calls him or give him gifts because he no longer has money, only his pension that allows him to survive.

So Selma did not think like that who for time said: “Today I have to think about myself”. She, with determination, did what no one would have done for her. When she became a widow, she continued her journey and, far from thinking about inheriting her loved ones in life, she committed her secrets to herself. If one day she died everything would be different, but in the meantime she had to think about her well-being. She had an apartment with all the amenities she needed, a manager and because she has been sleeping a lot lately, she had three employees who took turn to assist her 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. She continued with her habits of the good life; she went to the beauty salon every eight days and twice a week she had dinner outside the house.

Today I have to think about myself, -otherwise – would I continue playing the blind chicken until autumn arrives?.

Lilia M. Fiallo was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where, between tasks and free time, she found a place to write about subjects, somehow forgotten by others. With gold letters engraved in her memory, she began her working life, in the heart of the technical part, of the air traffic control of her native country. In the midst of aeronautical phraseology and codes, the world of aviation gave her one of the highest experiences, because of the precision required by this craft, where a single mistake could cost many lives. It is there, where in her concern to communicate her ideas, she begins to write with dedication, themes a little relegated by society, the Church and the State. Discovering a truth that nobody wants to talk about, but much more real and everyday, than it seems. It is thus, as it appears, her first work, “Parir por parir”.
You can find her book at for sale in Amazon.

Emotional Intelligence and Soul Mate

Using Emotional Intelligence to find our Soul Mate
by Tyrone Dixon
Copyright © July 2018
All Rights Reserved.
Translated into Spanish by: Nina Vergara

When it comes to romance many of us struggle with finding our soul mate. There are many variables to consider when discussing romantic relationships, and why two people may or may not be compatible. Or why we just can’t seem to find the “one.”

The first thing I would invite you to do is think of romantic relationships in terms of it being a science, as opposed to a Fairytale, which many of us grew up believing it is. You know the “knight in shiny armor” coming to save the “distraught princess,” and then both of them going on to “live happily ever after?”… Right.

True romance involves establishing a deeper connection with your partner through consistent behavior, which allows trust to be present for both parties, and a safe space to be comfortable in expressing oneself without fear of retaliation or judgment.

Are you starting to see why you should look at romance relationships as more science than Fairytale? If not, consider this fact; 50% of the time when we say we are ready for our soul mate, we are not in a spot to fully commit ourselves to the other person (we may be unemployed, going through financial hardship, depressed, not over our previous romantic relationship, etc.).

After working with several clients on past, present, and future relationships I was able to come up with a list of thing we can look for in an ideal romantic relationship:

1. Ideal partner – someone who has developed the skills to be with another person, and work on themselves at the same time. Once we feel we have found the ideal partner, the remaining characteristics on the list will let us know if the relationship can be transitioned to a deeper connection (soul mate).
2. Maturity – is this person able to take responsibility for their actions? Or are they always looking to place blame on others/circumstances?
3. Open and honest – can we talk to this person about difficult things? Are we comfortable sharing our deepest secrets with this person?
4. Integrity – does this person’s words and actions align?
5. Does this person challenge us to take calculated risks?
6. Respect for our goals – one partner’s goals or life vision does not exceed the others.
7. Are they committed to understanding us? – are they aware of what we have in common? Do they have an appreciation for our differences?
8. Unconditional acceptance – accepting us for who we are, and a willingness to continually strive for growth individually & together.

I invite you to use this list going forward when you are working to establish a romantic relationship. It can save both partners time, prevent highly stressful situations, and most of all help us to avoid heartbreak.

Peace and Love,

Tyrone Dixon works as a Certified Professional Coach in the Syracuse Community through his business ArozeThrough Concrete Coaching. He was born and raised on the South and West Sides of Syracuse. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from SUNY Buffalo. It is his pleasure to be a “writing contributor” for CNY Latino, and write about the topic of Emotional Intelligence (EI). He loves the City of Syracuse and believes that exposure to Emotional Intelligence can help change the direction of the individuals living in some of our “high poverty” areas. Can you imagine how much better our city would be if people were taught how to manage their feelings without hurting someone? Or if we could teach people to be proactive in identifying situations they are not comfortable in?.