The sentencing of former Plattsburgh State student Kevin Quigley to four years in prison determinate, passed down on Oct. 16, has broadened the conversation of the increasing illicit drug problem in the North Country.
Quigley, who was sentenced by Clinton County Judge Kevin Ryan, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance and two counts of third-degree possession of a controlled substance after selling heroin on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, 2013.
Quigley was one of seven people to be arrested in a drug sweep pulled off by area law enforcement officials in May 2013.
PSUC University Police Chief Arlene Sabo said the 2013 sweep was necessitated by a major increase of illegal drugs over the past several years.
“Plattsburgh is like any other community,” Sabo said. “We’re certainly not immune to the growing drug problems.”
After New York began cracking down on prescription drug abuse in August 2013, communities all across the state saw a spike in the demand for heroin due to its accessability and affordability, Sabo said.
In 2012, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman spearheaded the implementation of a system known the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act, or simply I-STOP.
The new law required doctors to check a patient’s narcotic prescription history before issuing or refilling a prescription.
The law also created a real-time database to track every narcotic prescription filled in the state.
Schneiderman said the growing problem of prescription drug abuse was made easier by a person’s ability to go “doctor-shopping” and get several prescriptions filled at a time.
The law, he said, will end the ability to do that in the state.
“Heroin is much easier to obtain now than pills or other types of drugs,” Sabo said.
In 2006, New York began allowing non-medical persons to administer the medication Narcan, which is used as an antidote to overdoses to heroin or other opiods.
University Police officers at PSUC are qualified to administer Narcan, Sabo said, in the case that a student overdoses on opiods on the PSUC campus, which she said is not likely due to the amount of surveillance performed on campus. However, she mentioned the growing prevalence of cases such as Quigley’s, where students become wrapped up in the drug scene.
“We have had instances of overdose in the community; we have also had students overdose, not on campus, but some who lived off campus,” Sabo said. “It’s just a sad state of affairs here.”
Students affected by this issue can reach out to several different area resources including Conifer Park, Behavioral Health Services North and Narcotics Anonymous for help and advice.
Email Maggie McVey at firstname.lastname@example.org.