Former reporter makes video to highlight, help with opioid crisis

Communication specialist Greg Hitchcock interviews Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski in her Fonda office for his upcoming multimedia presentation on the area impact of the nationwide opioid-abuse epidemic. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

GLOVERSVILLE — After a month of research and editing, a veteran journalist from Gloversville will air a multimedia presentation about the area scope and effects of the national opioid-abuse epidemic.

Greg Hitchcock, a freelance writer and media specialist, will present his findings in a 12-minute video on his website, www.greghitchcock.net, from 6 a.m. Dec. 20 through New Year’s Eve.

“Opioid addiction, including heroin, is very extensive,” said Hitchcock. “It touches every part of society regardless of what socioeconomic, racial and ethnic community you belong to.”

Hitchcock interviewed health personnel, law enforcement, social service agencies and political figures, such as Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski and George Amedore, chairman of the state Senate’s Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee.

He said he was motivated to produce the video to raise public awareness of the problem.

“We’re losing too many young people to painkillers,” he said.

“I’ve got a personal friend who’s recovering from heroin addiction,” he added. “Not everybody is celebrating Christmas. Some people are struggling with addiction.”

Hitchcock said he learned from paramedic Joseph Kilmartin of the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps that one “hit” of heroin can addict a person.

The addict using heroin never knows if other opioid chemicals such as fentanyl or carfentanyl are combined with it.

“Heroin can kill one elephant, but carfentanyl can kill 40 elephants,” he said. “Carfentanyl is 10,000 times more potent than morphine.”

Carfentanyl is a synthesized substance chemically similar to fentanyl and is marketed by Wildnil as an anesthetic for large animals such as elephants. Time magazine reported that carfentanyl-laced heroin has been linked to hundreds of overdoses between mid-August and mid-September. Opioids affect cells in the central nervous system. Confusion and respiratory depression are some potential side effects.

Hitchcock said he found that since 2011 opioids are “the second used drugs next to marijuana for youth.”

He said his sources have said a lack of financial resources makes it harder for law enforcement to contain the opioid epidemic. Opioid use “has come out of the urban back alleys into suburban and rural areas,” he said.

Hitchcock said Catholic Charities has received a grant to educate youths in schools and other venues about the dangers of opioid use.

His presentation isn’t all bad news.

“I want people to know that there is help out there for those struggling with addiction,” he said.

Hitchcock has been a freelancer and communications specialist for local, regional and national media for some 20 years and was a reporter for The Leader-Herald from 2006 to 2007.

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