Last Monday, a panel of four assemblymen and six community members met in the BTC auditorium to discuss heroin use in the Capital Region. One of the community members on the panel was Hudson Valley chemical dependency counseling student, Brian Prinz.
“I’m in recovery from heroin addiction, so I know what that beast is like,“ said Prinz. “I’ve been through hell, I’ve been through institutions … I’ve lost close friends of mine, I’ve been there. It really is as bad as they say it is.”
“The times are a changin’ as to how we deal with recovering addicts,” said Brian Farr, coordinator of addiction studies at the college and member of the panel. “Just to come out here and have this discussion, to have politicians, and lawmakers and treatment people in the same room I think is a huge step.”
About 50 people attended the event, a dozen of which spoke before the panel. One of those who spoke was student senator Kara Vanguilder. “My sister is a heroin addict currently, so it was hard, but I wanted people to know that there is help,” said Vanguilder after the forum.
Both Prinz and Vanguilder attended a protest in Washington D.C. on Oct. 3 which, according to Vanguilder, was focused on finding aid for addicts and expungement of criminal records.
The four assemblymen present at forum were Steve McLaughlin, Joseph Giglio, Al Graf and Jim Tedisco. McLaughlin, who hosted the event, remarked, “Forums like this help us as legislators as we go back into session in just a few months from now.”
“I’ve been a public servant for quite a long time, and I’ve come to understand that the most important part about being a public servant and representative is to be able to communicate,” said Tedisco. “But, communication is a two-way street and what I’ve found is that it’s most important to be a good listener rather than a good speaker. I’m going to listen tonight and I’m going to learn tonight and hopefully bring back some information.”
According to Giglio, the state assembly passed a series of laws aimed at helping the victims of heroin addiction but many feel that the laws did not help enough. “God bless you young man. I’m glad you’re here,” said Giglio referring to Prinz. “But there are more [addicts] out there and we need to help them.”