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Opioid Crisis: Spencerport man shares his struggle to get clean

August 04, 2017 08:31 PM

You've heard the community outcry that there just isn’t enough treatment services to counter the opioid crisis.

With Washington reporting 142 Americans are dying every day, we want to focus on the Rochester area and what's being done to prevent local addicts from becoming a number.

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Justin Pappas first reached out to me in January through social media after I asked: "Do you know anyone in Rochester who has been saved by Narcan."

Justin wrote: "I did and several of my friends." We've stayed in touch. Friday, his message is about how we will continue to lose the addiction battle as drugs get laced with more and more potent substances.

For Justin Pappas, the addiction breaking point came in March, when he ended up on the streets, eating and sleeping at the Open Door Mission or House of Mercy.

"Basically when I was homeless, I can't imagine what anybody else they go through," said Pappas. "For me being on the streets of Rochester it was horrible."

The 35-year-old says he got hooked on heroin before graduating from Spencerport High. His life has been a series of odd jobs, broken relationships and drugs.

When police and EMS workers started carrying Narcan and reviving overdose victims, it gave him reassurance that at least with Narcan, he wouldn't die.

"I OD'd once and it was very -- I don't remember a lot of it because I was out," he says. "I'm just grateful for it because I wouldn't be here without it."

But now heroin is laced with such powerful synthetics, Narcan doesn't always work on Facebook. Justin's been posting death notices. He says there were eight friends in July alone.

Rebecca Leclair: "Because of overdoses?"

Pappas: "Overdose or due to some kind of drugs and it's really heart breaking because you get to know them through this process and a lot of them are trying to get clean but there aren't enough resources in Rochester to help the people."

He says he relapsed in March but kept asking for help. By the end of June, he was placed in Cody House -- a 16-bed group home for chemical dependency in Corn Hill. After 18 years of addiction, he thinks he's on the right track.

"It been helping me tremendously," he says. "They've got great staff on --they always there 24/7. They have great resources outside when you graduate."

The non-profit East House runs Cody House and three other chemical dependency residential programs in Rochester. Officials could not confirm to us if Justin is a client because of HIPPA rules. But they hope community support will only grow for these types of programs.

More info on East House

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Rebecca Leclair

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