Overdose Awareness Day Speaker: Caring People Give Hope to People with Substance Use Disorder


“My name is Jarett LoCicero and you can find me at the GCASA Recovery Center helping with services for those looking to be themselves, feel their best and maybe even live their dreams.”

That’s how LoCicero, a Batavia resident in his fourth year of recovery, ended his six-minute lecture this afternoon at the annual Overdose Awareness Day hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force in Austin. Park. He managed to insert a powerful message into his speech, reflecting the event’s theme of reducing the stigma of addiction and letting people know that help is at hand.

Now Case Manager at The Recovery Station run by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, LoCicero (picture above) shared that changing his perception of himself was key to his path to recovery.

“Today we speak loosely from the perspective of someone with the disease of addiction and their ability to change that perspective,” he said. “Ultimately, what is stopping the person from that change? And, maybe when someone scratches the front of their eyes to see themselves following the decision, a change or a commitment, they are failing again and again, ultimately not feeling able to succeed despite the best and purest of intentions?

He spoke of the agony felt by the person caught up in drug addiction and for his family. As a result, he said, that person “may die for it or die for the change, a desire to feel different – the very nature of an overdose or instant gratification, and why many of we have gathered here today”.

When he realizes someone has a problem, LoCicero said it then becomes a matter of perspective — and change from that perspective can be accelerated by encouragement from those who care.

“Once the perspective can be supported by ‘I’ statements, such as I am, I can’t, I won’t, I’m from this, I’m cut from this fabric, this is my culture, stay in your way. It will never happen or drag me down,” he said. “But, despite all that, a person is going to think if I just had X, Y and Z, I could do that. If the light could just shine on me. I could do that and make a difference in my life.


“Because it’s my life. What X, Y and Z basically boil down to being in any case are our common and essential needs – the love and support of care, personal needs that allow everyone to fulfill themselves and become their dream.

LoCicero said once he saw his life through a different filter – “and put in the effort” – his perspective shifted and his life changed “almost instantly”.

He said his breakthrough in believing in himself led to a desire to help others do the same.

“This is what we can do for people, (show that) we care about suffering from the disease of addiction, a disease of a way of life, and we can contribute to the optimal conditions necessary for growth and opportunities by making people aware of our desire and our commitment to help, above all, to prove to them that it is possible,” he said.

LoCicero said those in attendance representing social services and health agencies want nothing more than to reach out to those struggling with addiction and “get you into the community – your community – or at least reduce your potential to harm”.

In closing, he shared a three-step approach that lifted him out of bondage.

“If you can put yourself before God, you will find a miracle. If you work hard enough and work hard enough, you just might find your cure. If you are yourself, this is the only way to find change and find happiness. If you do these three things and ask for help, you will definitely recover.



Paul Pettit, director of public health for Genesee and Orleans counties, (in the photo above)applauded the work of the GOW Opioid Task Force, the three-county agency partnership that has been in place for the past five years.

“Preventing opioid overdose deaths…is one of the priority goals of GOW’s Community Health Improvement Plan,” Pettit said, mentioning that drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the states. -United. “The opioid epidemic is an urgent and serious public health and public safety issue.”

Nationally, more than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses last year, and globally that number approached 600,000. And, after trending downward in 2018 and 2019, the numbers are rising again, he said.

“In Genesee County, there were 15 fatal opioid overdoses in 2020 – 15 too many,” Pettit said, “including six in Orleans County and seven in Wyoming County.”

He cited the increase in fentanyl and synthetic opioids and concurrent use of stimulants, particularly cocaine.

“The takeaway is that people die of a fentanyl overdose when they just want to take cocaine or another stimulant, and they may have no idea they’re at risk of an overdose. “, did he declare.


GCASA executive director John Bennett said the Overdose Awareness Day initiative, launched in Australia in 2001, is now celebrated internationally, with 367 events in the United States and around 600 in outside the US borders.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to present this to our community,” he said. “Visiting the various booths here today, I hear people having great conversations with members of the community. This is to reduce the stigmatization of dependent people. It’s about giving people who have lost loved ones a place to talk – free of stigma, shame and guilt – in a really kind, positive and friendly zone.

Bennett pointed to the agency’s recently opened rehab center on East Main Street as a place “that is already saving lives.”

“We offer free access; you can just walk in and we’ll see you. Last Thursday, I think we had seven admissions,” he said. “Holding events like this in the community raises awareness. So my advice is that if you need help, there are free access centers all over Western New York. Go to one, and they’ll get you where you need to be. Or call me. My number is 585-815-1850 and I’ll find you a spot.

Other speakers were Christopher Budzinack, a residential counselor at GCASA’s Atwater Community Residence, who spoke about his recovery from addiction and prison, and Niki Lang, who read a letter and poem written by his son, Jason, who died in 2017 from the substance. use the mess.

More than a dozen agencies had booths at the event, including the Genesee and Orleans Counties Mental Health Association, Genesee County Office of Aging, Batavia Community Schools , Genesee County Mental Health, Genesee Justice, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Job Corps, Rochester Regional Health, CORE, Restore, Genesee County Health Department, Oak Orchard Health, Suicide Prevention Coalition, Care-A -Van Ministries, Horizon, Fidelis Care, Molina Healthcare and WNY Heroes (for veterans).

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is GCASA’s publicist.


Reverend Vern Saile, pastor of Northgate Free Methodist Church, giving the invocation on Overdose Awareness Day.


“The Groove” features covers of classic rock songs – from left to right, Joe Gagne, Pete Gomez, Neil Gagne and Bob Smith.


The messages of hope form the pieces of the puzzle of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Erin Egloff, left, and Kaitlyn Mellina provide services in the Finger Lakes region.


GCASA’s Melody McMaster brightens 8-year-old Avi’s day at the makeup booth.


The team at Rochester Regional Health (parent of United Memorial Medical Center) is ready to share with the public.


Animal attraction in the form of Frega’s Funny Farm of Stafford.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.


Comments are closed.