Thursday, June 1, 2023

Hear from a former drug user/dealer in Tupper Lake on how he’s now fighting for his community

Downtown Tupper Lake by Mike Lynch

By Mike Delair

I live in Tupper Lake I am writing you in regards to the epidemic of drugs that has taken over our community and the necessity to help adequately fund our village police department, rid our town of drugs and crime and most importantly save lives.

First off let me tell you about myself. I am 49 years of age, and led a life of drugs, crime, multiple incarcerations and overdoses. It was a life I never thought I could escape from or give up. I look back now and can only imagine how many nights my mother waited up for me- just to know I was okay , not in jail or worse, dead!

Faced with the grim alternatives, my mother, of course, preferred I was in jail and alive than the alternatives of still surviving on the streets or dead. -And believe me! My life on the street was simply survival.

At the age of 18 I started smoking pot . By the age of 20 I learned how lucrative selling drugs was. By the time I was 22 years of age, I sold half the North Country drugs- and had users in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Newcomb and Long Lake. Fifty percent of the pot that was around probably came from my hands in those years.

At 23 years of age I got into cocaine. I not only abused the drug but got involved heavily with the distribution of $15,000 worth of it through my hands weekly.

In my yard was a four wheeler, a wave runner, a snowmobile, a truck and a car. I had a top of the line sound system electronics in my house and vehicles. You name it, I had it.

But I had no visible means of income. Why didn’t someone in law enforcement notice?

My first bust was in 2005. It involved myself and several other locals. I was charged for felony possession of marijuana as I had been out of cocaine that week as my dealer was in jail. I did 18 months in county jail and spent five years on felony probation “for the weed.”

After that I got into heroin. I was making just under $15,000 every couple weeks give or take, selling it and with what went up my nose. My habit cost me roughly $75,000 (street value) through the course of a year. Looking back, it was pretty sad!

At 39 years of age I was caught in the largest bust in Franklin county involving 36 people- 27 of whom were released to probation. I received a sentence of four years in state prison. Luckily I did only 18 months as I went through the shock program and successfully completed it.

I was only home four weeks on parole and already had already accumulated 30 bundles of heroin while living in a shed on my mother’s property.

After failing a couple drug screenings I finally got my life together as I knew I was looking at ten years in jail on my next bid.

As a friend described the drug trade just about a month ago: “cash is king, baby”.

The hypocrisy in that is as of March 2 he is incarcerated, leaving his wife and children behind and alone.

I no longer live that life! I am a better person for doing so and see things in a much different way!

I have a son, his wife and two beautiful grand daughters and two grand sons. I have a girlfriend who I love with two sons, and a very caring, loving and supportive mother!

Today I choose them and put them before drugs. My past would say differently but my past can’t define who I am today.

What makes me different today, you may ask? Well, I’m doing the unthinkable. Just a short time ago my friend passed away due to an overdose here in our home town, leaving his family, friends, and two children behind.

We drifted apart a few years back. But he and many more friends who I care for are still involved in drugs, so I have to love them from a distance. In doing so in the past seven years I have lost 16 friends to drug overdoes.

This year, hopefully with the help of local, state and regional lawmakers, my goal is to eradicate that problem!

When my friend was left dead on the frozen ground this winter, I lost it! I lost hope in humanity, I lost control, I was filled with sadness and anger and tired of watching my friends die.

I made a promise to someone years ago to rid this town of the poison which killed a friend. But I failed miserably. More friends died, and more shame and guilt have filled my heart. Well, I made that same promise this time, and don’t intend to fail. I have taken action to find my friend’s killer and stop the influx of drugs to our community.

How, you may ask? That’s where the unthinkable comes in. Myself and my girlfriend and a few anonymous others started driving around at night and watching those individuals involved in drugs. We’ve been writing down license plates, talking via texts to addicts and dealers alike.

Our aim is to gain as much information as we can. It got expensive so we started a Go-fund Me to help cover the cost of our gas. I was ridiculed, made fun of, and told I was untrustworthy.

Slowly the fund grew to around $400 and after a few hateful comments we decided to give all funds raised to my friend’s family for a headstone for my friend, Paul. With the money we were raising we also started an account for his two children which at this point is remarkably at nearly $4,000.

I’ve harassed people through Facebook, showing texts of dealers’ dirty deeds, pics of meth, and anything else that implicates their involvement, knowing it would get back to them.

Again, I was ridiculed, harassed and even threatened to the point my own mother deleted me from Facebook as she feared the safety of me and my family and the loss of my sanity. Many friends, all good-natured and well-intentioned people, have said I am wasting my time, loosing my grip on reality and are concerned for me both physically and mentally.

I have been asked: “why am I doing this?” My reply to them is simply: “why are you doing nothing?”

Meth and heroin run rampant in our streets! Everyone complains, but do nothing. I’m not going to continue to do nothing! If I am hurt because of my actions, I would only hope it would shed more light on the situation at hand and if I die, I hope I am remembered for what I am doing, and not for what I have done in my past.

If honoring my many dead friends is not honorable than what is honor? I can only hope that through the information I have obtained it leads to the arrest of my friend’s killer, as no justice has been served for the other 15 friends I’ve lost over the past several years. That is my hope; this is my wish!

It is time for change and over the past month those changes have been happening. People have read my posts and people have started to reach out to me and confide in me about activities in their neighborhoods- sending photos and tips etc. to me.

Others have gone as far as creating a website to expose such things, some of which I don’t condone. But to be honest they are getting their points across and if hurting some folks’ feelings happens, well consider the feelings of all the families who have lost there children here.

People are tired of it- “lots of people are- and they are fighting back. We are not vigilantes but people using the power of our voice to make a change and maybe one day go back to living like we used to for decades here.

Our town is horribly different now- from the innocent place it was years ago. Who doesn’t lock their door now? Who isn’t afraid that their kid may go to the ball park and fall on a needle . We are not the Tupper Lake we used to be, yet we promote how peaceful we are. Tupper Lake is now a community plagued with death of our young adults, addiction and crime.

Are people aware are crime rate has nearly tripled in the course of the last two years- most of it drug-related crime. Why is that? Because the state’s bail reform is not working the way you think it should. Our crime rate has tripled because the same individuals who are apprehended and arrested are released and back on the street before the ink dries on the paper of their arrest. Once out they are back committing more crimes.

While much of this is my opinion, if you look at the local police blotter it’s the same several individuals arrested and released, but not jailed, over and over again! The bail system is broken in New York State.

Squatters illegally staying in local apartments and houses in Tupper Lake was unheard of a few years ago. Now it’s commonplace…people moving into someone’s residence because it’s empty and our laws say we can’t just tell them to get out. It’s a complete and utter atrocity.

To all the elected leaders of our town, our county and our state, I simply ask this:

Will you fix our laws? Will you push to seek justice for those lost to the poisons being pushed in our community? Will you find funding for our local police department so they aren’t done work at 7p.m. when all the fun begins? -Or maybe situate a treatment facility right here where drug users and addicts can go to receive Narcan and mental health counseling?

To my community, I say, it is time to stop treating what’s going on here as a dirty secret. It is time to take our town back with or without our governments’ help! If you see something, say something. It’s that simple! You can remain anonymous but what you should not do is stay silent because before long the criminals will be running our town if we do not take action now!

Last but not least, a few comments to my fellow addicts:

I was once you and still am! I have anxiety and mental health issues persist with me to this day!

I not only feel your pain, your shame and your guilt but truly understand the grip of addiction as it haunts me to this day. I routinely have vivid dreams of smoking crack , nodding out, finding my dead friend and hearing his bones crack as I lifted him dead off the floor.

But some how in some way I finally just had enough and gave it all up. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about it almost daily as I to want to numb the pain and quiet that little voice in my head that says “I’ll never be anything more than what I am- a junkie, a depressed and almost insane man of 50 years who sometimes thinks death would be easier than to go on living.

My critics may think I have no compassion. They may think of me as a bully and a bad guy and I’m okay with that. Why? Because I live with it. I hear all their hateful comments directed at me. And they combine on top of all the nasty things my own mind says to me on a daily basis. But I’m okay with it because I have changed and regardless of how low I feel sometimes, every day I rise and I put one foot in front of the other each and continue to fight for my sobriety.

It’s a challenge ten times harder than how I chased the drugs all those years. This is not an easy task by any means. I am no better than any of you and hate that some of you feel that way but so be it. If you ask me for help I will do whatever I can to help you- whether it just my ear to listen to you or the offer of some advice.

I pointed out to a few individuals I hope I’m not looked at as a bully to addicts. I’m the exact opposite. I care about all of you! But some of the things people have written about me on social media post, criticizing my motives and my character, just shows how truly horrible the disease of addiction is! It’s cunning, baffling and powerful.

To those living with it , they know of its power. Someone who is clean and sober may outwardly seem to be doing well on their journey, but then all of a sudden, without warning, they have a slip or even succumb to a full-blown relapse.

This type of behavior is very confusing to addicts and to their family members and friends, who often think that once their loved one goes for treatment that the problem will be fixed. Unfortunately, addiction doesn’t work that way. It’s a chronic illness that has all of the qualities listed above, along with “infinite patience.”

I would refer everyone troubled by addiction to: Stjoesphinstitute.com understanding addiction: cunning, baffling, powerful.

I will leave you with these words from a friend a mine, David Leblanc who said this to me recently: “I’ve known you since before you could walk Your mom played softball with my mom, so I watched you during games. I’ve known you since before your escapades. I saw your heart before it was hardened by crime and drugs. I see your heart even when you are raging mad. A man’s heart is what it is from birth. He’s capable of bad but deep inside of his heart, if it is good, he’s good. You just took awhile to figure out that you’re a good man. Some of us always knew! Maybe God or whoever is out there put you through all of the bad for this mission. Our town is going through some dark times, and maybe it needs a good-hearted man who’s looked into the abyss to help turn the lights back on!”

Photo from Almanack archive

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com




78 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    Well done Mike. We need more people to stand up and not look the other way. We have the same problem here in Broadalbin. I guess every small Adirondack village is suffering from drug use and selling.

  2. Daniel Way says:

    Mike Delair is a brave man whose life hung by a slender thread until he decided that his life experience gave him the wisdom, courage, motivation and determination to save not only himself, but those other lost souls that he identified with. I wish him the best and pray he continues on his crusade.

  3. Joan Grabe says:

    What ? There is another face of Tupper Lake. One that is filled with hope for the future. One with new development at the site of the former Oval Wooden Dish Factory, with the 2 Park Avenue houses being rehabbed by the Northern Forest Fund, by the Wild Center and the prospective hotel plans headed by the lady who co founded the Wild Center with Obie Clifford. Plus the Art Center, good restaurants and many other positives. The Library, the Post Office, Raquette River Brewery, and Shaheen’s IGA and the donuts from the Laundramat. Of course we know that all of America has a drug problem but why, when there are so many people enthusiastically advocating for Tupper Lake, is a letter like this featured ? It is so depressing and a counter weight to everything we are trying to achieve.

    • Mike Delair says:

      So you feel cash is a priority over death and addiction ?

    • Emily Rust says:

      It’s so depressing to see someone who only cares about the LOOKS and MONEY coming into Tupper Lake and not the people actually living here. If they found it important enough to publish, then YES it needed to be featured. If you don’t agree simply move along. Easy.

      • Tim says:

        You say “bail reform is not working the way you think it should” and you were released on parole only to begin dealing again. What do you propose?

        • Patti Breault says:

          Sometimes people fail multiple times but he picked himself up time and time again and changed. As the mother of this recovering addict the fight is forever,life long as it is for an alcoholic.It is heartbreaking when you watch them go cold turkey as suboxine is just another addiction. Tremors, sweats, chills,leg cramps,deep anxiety with many verbal ideas wanting to end the pain by suicide.If they have no one to turn to for help they give up.Sometimes you have to lose everything, sometimes in the depth they give up and commit suicide. It took his 2 year old Grand daughter to drag him out of that hole and gave him a reason to change.

          • Mike D says:

            Thank you mother
            Olivia definitely opened my eyes to what I was doing and what needed to be changed
            Which was just about everything
            I’m always gonna be criticized in one aspect or another now years ago I deserved it all
            Now not so much
            But like before I’m ok with it
            Sticks and stones ma
            Sticks and stones
            Thank you though

    • E says:

      Ma’am, It’s my thought that you haven’t had any loss to drugs or violence. If that is true than God bless you! But for most people that is unheard of now. What this man speaks about is an echo from all the mothers, fathers, family and friends who have suffered and lost so much due to those things. If you want your town to stay beautiful as it is in your eyes, you may want to wipe off the scales from yours.
      God bless you!

  4. Kim Ratelle Caneda says:

    I have not lived in SL for 23 yrs but I find it in the Tri-Lakes best interest to have Mike DeLair come forward and help in the attempt to make it safe for the upcoming generations.
    I met Mike once about 2008ish (when Angee Corrow felt Brady and I needed supervision visiting my grand daughter) and he had just been released from one of his many stints in jail. I could see he had a good heart at the time (he did return to jail several times after we met) but that good heart is finally making its way to the surface and will hopefully benefit the younger communities. Keep up the good work and hopefully more concerned citizens will join in “your fight”.

  5. Christine Denno says:

    Thank you, Mike. That is a powerful letter. God bless you.

  6. ADKresident says:

    I appreciate the raw honesty of this story. Much to unpack here.

  7. Joy York says:

    Mike is my second cousin. This takes a true man with love for his hometown and it’s people to come forth with such personal information. The lady above that stated, “ the other face of Tupper Lake”, you must wake up. The face Mike is speaking of will RUIN the “the other face”, you speak of in an insty minute. People will not invest, visit, or move to a drug ridden, lack of police force, etc. town, that Mike is fighting to clean up.
    Mike Delair you are a success, you are not a bully, you are a kind, compassionate, and good man. I am proud to call you my cousin and I think you are good for Tupper Lake and thank you for trying to bring the Tupper Lake back that I knew and loved!!!!!!

  8. Well done, Mike. You demonstrated what it takes to come forward and speak hard truths. While Tupper’s future might look bright to some what with all the development money coming its way, but as you know and so clearly stste it will all come to nought if the undelying rot of out of control drug abuse is not directly addressed. I trust your brave expose will bring the necessary response from the TL community and those elected to serve it. Thank you.

  9. LBJ says:

    It takes a LOT of courage to share this story and even more to advocate for those who have not found the strength to do so for themselves. I have not lived in Tupper for 30 years but I knew the tenacity of it’s residents was admirable even then! God Bless this young man and all that strive to make a better place in their towns!

  10. Bill Keller says:

    It’s called taking personal responsibility for your own actions. If you buy illegal street drugs you run the risk of dying. Anyone who uses street drugs knows this, or should. It’s their choice. The war on drugs has been a failure Enforcing the drug control system costs at least $100 billion a year, worldwide. Federal spending in the United States alone totals around $15 billion annually and according to one estimate, state and local drug-related criminal justice expenditures amount to $25.7 billion.. Drug trade in the US is worth $150 billion and worldwide it’s $652 billion. Bottom line, you will never stop some people from using illegal street drugs. We can’t even stop them from abusing prescription drugs. It’s called taking personal responsibility for your life’s actions.

  11. Worth Gretter says:

    The purpose of cash bail it to make sure the accused returns for trial. Bail is not intended to keep people off the streets or start the punishment process, because the accused is innocent until proven guilty.

    If people are continuing to offend, then the issue is failure of the court system to apply the laws, or that the laws themselves are not a sufficient deterrent to bad behavior.

  12. Mike says:

    It’s only going to get worse. Where’s the outrage against dispensaries? NY politicians would love to see one in Tupper Lake. I’m sure there will be one sooner or later. Every poster here will vote for the same liberal politicians over and over. So don’t pretend you care about the author.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      You haven’t noticed that the north country is solidly Republican? So let’s not go the “blame liberals“ route.
      But let’s not politicize what is a story about a brave human being who is dealing with his demons and trying to help others deal with there’s.
      This is a very complex issue that involves economic opportunity or lack there of, education, healthcare, including and especially mental illness, adequate funding for law-enforcement, and all of the above.
      I wish Mr. Delair all the best for him, his family and his community.

      • Rob says:

        We need more areas of the state that are solidly Republican to vote. Then just maybe we will be able to rid this state of Kathy and get the majority control away from the Democrats

        • Bob Meyer says:

          That’s your opinion, and in a democracy, thankfully, you are entitled to it. Others, like myself and the vast majority of New Yorkers despise people like Stefanik, Trump, and those who would erode our democracy.

          • Rob says:

            Republican Party needs to do a way with Trump. I can’t stand him either. But I wouldn’t vote for a Democrat because I dont like Trump or whoever. And if you look at past election results if it wasn’t for big cities, especially NYC we wouldn’t be under Democratic control.

          • Rob says:

            How is Elise eroding our democracy?? She won by a wide margin. Obviously the vast majority of people in her district don’t despise her.

            • Bob Meyer says:

              Really? So her unbridled support of Trump and his lies is of no consequence?
              Her lack of condemnation of the insurrection of Jan 6 doesn’t matter?
              The people that voted for her fooling themselves if they think she really stands for America in any ethical or moral way.

              • Rob says:

                Trump is an idiot. Hoping his reelection effort is short lived so we can stop bringing him up. A lot of officials don’t have condemnation for Jan 6. I don’t agree with it. But I’m not going to vote or not vote for someone because they won’t say Jan 6 was bad. I’m going to vote for the person if their policies are good. There aren’t to many Democrats in this state with good policies that would make me vote Democrat. I’m still not sure what policies they have put forth that got Cuomo elected as his numerous terms or what got Kathy elected. Maybe it’s the immigrants people are feeling sorry for and she got the compassion votes. Who knows

        • Bill Keller says:

          If you compare 28 years each of Democratic and Republican administrations, 1961-2016, five Presidents from each party. During that period Republicans scored eighteen times more individuals and entities indicted, thirty-eight times more convictions, and thirty-nine times more individuals who had prison time. Then you add in Trump and his Republican party. No, we certainly don’t need any more Republicans in office. Both parties have been corrupted, wake up.

          • Rob says:

            Yes. Both parties are corrupted. Not sure where Republicans are getting all the crap they are pushing and implementing. But I can’t vote for Democrats with the policies they are pushing either. We are screwed no matter who is in office. I’ve been up since 5 AM so I’m awake

            • Bob Meyer says:

              Facts are inconvenient.
              If you are still voting for Republicans over Democrats after reading the facts above, you are not fully awake. 😏

              • Rob says:

                Didn’t vote last election. Wasn’t a candidate worth voting for. It’s worse that people vote Democrat just because they don’t like the Republican Party all because of Trump. When they get good policies maybe I’ll go back to voting Democrat. But they are currently just as bad as the Republican Party with no good candidates to support

                • Bob Meyer says:

                  With all due respect for your opinion, this is too simplistic.
                  The Republicans are mostly in lock step with varieties of far right ideology. There is much more variety of opinions in the big tent of the Democrats.

                  • Rob says:

                    And the Democrats are mostly in step with Far left thinking. I don’t agree with the junk Republicans are implementing around the country. But I also don’t agree with the stuff Democrats are trying to implement either. I’ll be honest, I just want to get up everyday and enjoy my retirement. I’m hoping to get at least another 30 years of enjoying it.
                    I don’t agree with the repeal of Roe. I don’t agree with the targeting of LBGQT. But I also don’t think those issues should be “classes” required to take in NY for schooling. Tired of all the anti semitism and racial hatred going around the county. Doesn’t make any sense to me.
                    I don’t like to hear Democrats push for free college. My daughter just graduated 2 weeks. My son will be a senior in college in the fall. I’m paying for their schooling. Which I am fine with. I do not want to pay taxes for your kid or anyone else’s. So I say no to free schooling. No to free health care. I pay enough in taxes. Don’t want to pay anyone else’s hospital bill. I’m all for green energy. But why, when we have the ability to produce our own oil are we buying from foreign countries??? A lot of people think that’s good since we aren’t damaging our environment. Those same people probably don’t like LIV golf because it is funded by Saudis. But it ok to buy oil from them since not produced here. Again I’m all for clean energy but we shouldn’t be paying close to $4 a gallon of gas when we could produce it here.
                    Both parties are messed up and we are in a no win situation because the politicians will tell you “I’m voting this way because that is what my constituents want. I’m trying to figure out what policies both sides are putting out that any constituent would want

                    • Bob Meyer says:

                      Well Rob,
                      Despite the fact that I am what you would call a lefty, it’s selective and not across the board.
                      I will strongly disagree with you about healthcare. I’ve had experience in several western countries and know that universal healthcare is with rare exceptions equal to or better than our own greed and profit driven system for much less money for all of us.
                      The energy situation is just stupid for sure.
                      It would be fun to meet up and discuss all this over coffee or something stronger. 😎

                  • Rob says:

                    I don’t drink coffee. But I’m up for something stronger sometime.

                    • Bob Meyer says:

                      Excellent.
                      I am downstate with camp in the Adirondacks
                      If you’re on Facebook messenger, I would be glad to connect

  13. Kenneth Baker says:

    Mike,

    First of all I applaud you and the courage you have to share your story and fight this horrible drug epidemic that has even made it’s way to my adolescent childhood of Tupper Lake. I can’t tell you how many times my wife and I stayed up waiting to see if our daughter was going to make it home or we were going to get that call she was in jail or worse never coming home again. Eventually where we live in Augusta GA she succumbed at our own home to fentanyl leaving behind a beautiful 5 year old daughter and parents that are still in disbelief. Numerous times I chased dealers off my property and threatened them to no avail. Intercepted drugs in my mailbox meant for my daughter. It’s a fight I was never going to win by myself. Local police couldn’t do much. I gave addresses and descriptions of vehicles or if I got lucky a license plate. You see we are truly out numbered and need leaders or voice’s like yours Mike to help us and keep from loosing another loved one. I’ve always loved Tupper and having a part time police force is an atrocity. I remember the wall mural years ago that said it takes a village to raise a child. Today that mural should say it takes a village to keep your child safe. If you share the go fund me page I’ll do whatever I can to help my old village.

  14. Your story on the drug dealer trying to help and spread the word of this terrible disease and help take it down is spot on. He has lived it and can best understand how it works and how much help is needed to try to save lives that are dying in such a fast way. He accepted where ge was at and wanted out. Saving others is the best we can try to accomplish. The laws are screwed up for sure. They have no idea what real help is. Jail time is no deterrent. They think.it is. Laughable. So we need education and safe help for users. Working to help others is the best medicine to help others and yourself. Help is key because death is the real.price paid. Thank you to this man for all he does
    Now time for us to jump on to help.

  15. Jessica V says:

    Honestly this is one of the most powerful stories I’ve enjoyed on this site! My husband and I spend as much time in Tupper Lake as possible, it’s one of our favorite places up north past our summer house in Indian Lake. We reside full time in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains with a city not far from us with the same drug problems. We work in this city at a large cemetery where you have to be on the lookout constantly for needles. We’ve had the police at the cemetery several times for people living in there, doing drugs, needle pickups and being robbed among other things. Driving through Tupper Lake you wouldn’t know there was a drug problem, it’s obvious where we work that there’s a problem. It’s so sad seeing towns that were booming at one point just turn to crap because there’s a lack of police to help control the situation, or even a lack of people that care like Mike to try to make a change!! It is NOT the police that need reforming it’s society! We need more police officers immediately!! Treatment facilities make me nervous as they could bring in even more addicts from other areas seeking treatment, don’t get me wrong I would love to see people get help and return to a normal life but you know as I know, where there’s addicts there’s dealers waiting to pounce on them. It’s just facts! Dealers don’t care if you’re trying to clean up they just care about selling! My father drove a med cab for a while, much of his driving was bringing people for drug treatment down to the Schenectady area. He would sit and wait for them to come back out to return them home. As he sat and waited he noticed dealers approaching people coming out of the treatment facilities, it blows my mind what some people will do to make a buck! Praying on those trying to better their lives is no living in my book! Keep up the good work Mike because Tupper Lake is loved by so many! The sunsets there are like no other place in the world and I would feel so lucky to live there but other people take it for granted and it’s so sad. Thank you for what you and the police and the Almanack have done here, it’s opened a lot of eyes to the terrible situation there. Good job for posting this story, I wish other people would appreciate what you’ve done here!

  16. Charlie Stehlin says:

    I just read the above story by Mike Delair, and was reminded how nothing changes, how history repeats. Addiction to drugs goes back hundreds of years. I have a book in my collection titled, ‘Means of Preserving Health and Preventing Diseases’ by Shadrach Ricketson 1806. This, as is much of the literature from back in those rural, innovative days, is a most interesting specimen. There’s a chapter within titled ‘Observations on the Abuse Of Medicine,’ to which the author wrote: “Some medicines, when misused, are often productive of bad consequences. The abuse of the innumerable patent and quack medicines, is a subject too important and well known to need pointing out: and whether legislative authority will ever interfere in suppressing this growing evil, it is hoped, that philanthropic physicians will endeavour (sic) to discourage and prevent this frequent source of disease.”
    The disease being, in Mike’s case, 217 years later–‘addiction.’

    Growing up on Long Island I saw, and became part of, the drug problem that was. Marijuana came first, then LSD, then barbiturates, and more…. I was a mess for a long while there, even after moving away from home; and there was that time in 1979, when I was 20 years-old; I was picked up by police as a public drunk and taken to police headquarters. The last thing I remember (to this day remember) was seeing suits all around me in a room. The next morning I woke up in a hospital and a nurse was there and the first thing she said to me when I woke up out of that stupor was, ‘Do you realize what happened to you last night?’ I went under in the police station. Those officers must have realized it was more than alcohol (it was Quaaludes too) that had a spell on me that long ago night, and they rushed me to the hospital, and if it wasn’t for those police officers I would have died on the streets 44 years ago. I have since come to realize higher laws and that I am being watched over by some supreme force, or whatever it may be called, as I have had other experiences since which have lead me to such thinking. I ‘know’ how lucky I am, and I have come to greatly appreciate my every moments!

    I don’t talk about this part of my life much, and this is the first I have made it public. I think about this event now and again and realize how so very fortunate I am to be alive. I know of many others who weren’t as lucky, Chippy Papandrew being one of them. He was left in the back seat of a friend’s car to ‘sleep it off’ whereas he should have been brought to a hospital the night before. I believe it was a mix of barbiturates, morphine and other way back then which killed him. As he was lying in the back seat of Jack’s car that long ago night he threw up and choked, suffocated, on his own vomit which was all blood, meaning he was that far progressed into his addiction, or disease. I’ll never forget Chippy! He was such a wonderful person, big into sports, body-building, and what a handball player he was! Then the drugs! His was such a sad affair, and maybe the reason why it has left such an impression on me is because I was the third person to see him lying dead in the back seat of that car on that long ago fateful morning, which was a major event in my young life….. Imagine losing a child in such a way!

    I wised-up at the age of about 26 or 27. I got away from the bad stuff earlier than that, but stuck with occasional cocaine and weed, until about the age of 26 or 27. I was a mess way back when and I gotta say…I’ve done a complete turnaround and am one grateful person. That experience, and others, have made me who I am today imperfect who is me. I feel for these kids today who have no idea of what they’re getting into once they turn to drugs! It’s a dead-end street!

  17. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Bob Meyer says: “You haven’t noticed that the north country is solidly Republican? So let’s not go the “blame liberals“ route.” in reply to Mike who seems to think things are only going to get worse because of “the same liberal politicians….”

    That’s an addiction too Bob….hypocrisy. There’s more of course but no need to go there. Or maybe just a wee bit ‘go there’ since I’m on a roll! A spade is a spade and the truth is not always a thing some of us appreciate Bob. In Mike’s mind, evidently, the Republicans are the only ones who are gonna save us, yet if you look at their history, especially their most recent history, what with their suppressing of voter rights, banning books, insurrection (“an innocent party which got out of hand” they swear by!), taking away women’s rights, pushing hard to get religion in public schools….. You can’t make this stuff up! It’s as visible as tar. Yet the liberals are the evil! Go figure! Values I suppose! Lower standards! One must come to a place where you just come to accept that you’ll never get through to people who are double-blind!

  18. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Joan Grabe says: “Of course we know that all of America has a drug problem but why, when there are so many people enthusiastically advocating for Tupper Lake, is a letter like this featured ? It is so depressing and a counter weight to everything we are trying to achieve.”

    I know people who think like you do Joan, who wish to see only the good while ignoring all else, or they ignore the totality of real things and events. I know people who will never get past all of their supposed wonderful things, material inclusive, which keep them happy, but shrivel at the thought of any ‘thing’ which they deem “negative”, even if that “negative” is the truth. I find it very difficult anymore to be around people like this because after a while it just sorta get’s old when you have to watch every word you say. Suppression annoys me! It is such a dreadful thought having to be subjected to this sort of mentality around the clock the remainder of my days. A form of torture!

  19. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Bill keller says: ” It’s called taking personal responsibility for your life’s actions.”

    It’s not as simple as you make it sound Bill! Some of us wouldn’t know what you mean by that as who knows what’s in who’s head! It sure is an easy thing to say, especially to those who sit on some high horse, which I am not implying that you are. We’re all set up different and we all have sheet on our minds, more than we should have for sure. If you look at who some of these overdose victims were, what kind of families they came from, etc., they’re not the stereotype some have racing around in their heads. Some people deserve what they get sure. But addicts?

    I lost a dear brother to drugs 24 years ago by now, and I don’t think there’s a day that goes by when I don’t think of him. He left behind a daughter and a wife, had his own business….. I think of him more as I age. I know the damage from drugs, from my own experience and from others’ experiences. If someone had said to me when I was in the throes of my addiction, “Take responsibility for your life’s actions” I wouldn’t have known what the hey they were talking about.

    • Bill Keller says:

      It sure is as simple, unless of course you are suicidal. Would you play “Russian Roulette”? That is what you are doing using street drugs. You can blame it on all the external factors you want but the bottom line it’s the individual who makes the final decision to do illegal drugs. “Take responsibility for your life’s actions” I wouldn’t have known what the hey they were talking about”. You know, most people know that they are responsible for their own actions. In fact the great majority of us are responsible for our actions every day. Just another excuse for the dilemma people cause themselves. Some people will continue to use/abuse illegal and legal substances as proven by our species long history of such abuse. Some people will die from their choices, it’s an individual’s choice, just like it’s the individual’s choice to stop.

  20. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Bob Meyer says: “There is much more variety of opinions in the big tent of the Democrats.”

    That’s why they’re also known as ‘liberals’ Bob. They’re more open-minded, more intelligent (generally speaking, but definitely more-so) more inclusive, more culturally accepting, etc., etc.

  21. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Rob says: “How is Elise eroding our democracy?? She won by a wide margin. Obviously the vast majority of people in her district don’t despise her.”

    Why would they despise her Rob. She’s giving them what they want, she’s feeding on their needs, biases, religion, you name it. Just look at Hitler’s history and there is something to be learned regards this matter. Surely all of them Germans who supported that fruitcake must have had some serious regrets in their later years after the truth was revealed of those horrors which they initially supported. Ignorance comes back to haunt eventually and I’d wager a lot of those Germans tossed and turned at night as they lied awake thinking of their shame…if it was that they even had a conscience.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      As a Jew I was reluctant to bring up this comparison (for the blow back I’ve gotten from some) But, since you mention it, EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • JohnL says:

      I’ve been a good boy till now and kept my mouth shut, but can’t any longer. In a sneaky, underhanded, veiled way, Charlie, you’re comparing Elise Stefanik to Hitler. This is despicable, even for someone that’s ‘out there’, like you Charlie. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      If this is what Bob is calling ‘blowback’, then so be it. Comparing a duly elected Representative of the U.S. Congress to arguably the worst person to ever walk God’s green earth, deserves blowback.

      • Bob Meyer says:

        It’s her unbridled/ power hungry support of Trump who, if he had gotten his way, would have destroyed our democracy, our nation and led us down the road to the kind of intolerance and hate that leads to the Hitlers, Stalins, Kim’s & Putins (his “ friends “) of history.
        I suggest you read the American classic “novel” of truth,
        It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis .
        IT CAN! And Stefanik has by her own choice become part of the crisis we face today. She deserves the strongest condemnation.

        • JohnL says:

          Bob, I was very glad to wake up this beautiful Sunday morning, read this post, and realize that you’ve overcome your fear of blowback for saying stupid things. Good job. BTW, if you run out of political despots to compare Trump to, you might want to use some civilian examples. You know. Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Lizzie Borden. Maybe branch out a little.
          P.S. Thanks for the reading assignment.

          • ADKresident says:

            Shew. For a second there JohnL, I thought maybe the ADK ALMC was hacked by the View’s fan page!! Then I realized it was just Bob and Charlie again, spewing their hatred and nonsensical comparisons. Predictable, borderline comical, yet not surprising.

            It’s best to gloss over and just keep scrolling to read the rational comments regarding Mike’s bringing to the forefront this very important crisis (which was, btw, written apolitical) effecting TL, as well as many other communities within the park. An important issue like this should not be overshadowed by such irrational and ridiculous political opinions/comparisons that are clearly off topic, brings zero value to the table and does nothing to unify residents regarding the seriousness of the topic at hand or anything else for that matter.

            • JohnL says:

              ADKR. I thought the same thing about overshadowing the intent of the message in the original post but at a certain point things got said that were clearly off topic that I just HAD to respond to. I should have ignored them, but alas, I didn’t. For my part in taking away from the importance of Mike’s message, I apologize.

  22. louis curth says:

    43 comments from all over the map thus far, best summed up in Kathy Boice’s closing: “Now time for us to jump on to help”.

    How many more essays do Adk. Almanack readers need about young people dying and families struggling with drug addiction in Tupper Lake, in Essex County and, in fact, all around our picturesque Adirondack-north country corner of America ? Now it’s time for us to help!

    How many more articles about our lack of affordable housing, insufficient childcare and home health care workers for the sick and aging? About an emergency room closing in Lake Placid, and our inability to attract doctors nurses, teachers, and skilled trades people to replace retirees aging out? Why can’t we recruit newbies to serve on our local fire, police and EMT squads? Is it the low wages we pay, or unaffordable health insurance costs? Is it the rise in awareness of the toxic substances encountered during fire and health emergencies, or the ever increasing time away from family for training, practice and actual emergencies? Now it’s time to help!

    The responses to this article show how much we all care, but they also need to move us to look past our differences and come together to rebuild a strong community spirit that will enable us to work together and bring positive change. We need everybody to help find solutions to mitigate our growing problems, and make life better for all who are suffering and being left behind. Now it’s time to help!

    Once upon a time, the basic elements of democracy and our responsibilities as good citizens were taught in school. There used to be two rival political parties whose leaders actually found ways to work together despite their differences. They actually solved problems, passed meaningful legislation to protect the environment and worker safety. In short, they made life just a bit better – not only for the rich – but also for regular working people.

    In today’s world, where one percent of rich and entitled people have more wealth than half of the entire world population, wouldn’t it be refreshing if our elected and appointed political elites would stop lying to us? If they would stop pursuing their selfish political ambitions, and stop the endless dark money fund raising abuses? Maybe then, they might have more time rebuild those bridges that used to make democracy work better for ALL of us.

    Is it really too much to ask this of people who took a solemn oath to serve us? If having two functioning parties with people, who know how to work together for the good of all the people is too much to ask of them, then maybe it’s time for we the people to help locate and elect other people who show us they will do a better job on behalf of ALL of us.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      AMEN!
      I must add (as someone has voted for people in both parties) that there is one Party that has mostly abandoned working with the other party for the good of all… and it’s does not start with a D.
      Deniers can obfuscate all you want but history will bear this out.

    • Bill Keller says:

      No political party or leaders of anytime has even slowed down substance abuse in the history of this country and probably the species. From prohibition to the war on drugs all have failed. Why? Because we/they/you/me don’t want to stop altering our reality.

      • ADKresident says:

        Maybe its high time we stop looking to and expecting the gov as the solution to our problems, when clearly their track record does not warrant any good reason to continue doing so.

        Gov entities do not have the passion in their heart to sincerely help, let alone solve problems, like people such as Mike do, which is why non-profits, volunteer and faith-based organizations tend to be more successful. More so than not, their hearts and actions are aligned with their pockets, unlike the gov and its unaccountable, lifeless and incompetent Depts that care more about how things look on paper in prep for the next election and tax budget than actually helping people.

  23. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “In a sneaky, underhanded, veiled way, Charlie, you’re comparing Elise Stefanik to Hitler.”

    No, I was not in the least being sneaky or obscuring my position on this matter JohnL, In thinking about what you say regards a comparison though…..yes there very well can be made a case. After all lies are lies and they do cause damage. Take per mere example “January 6″… a date which will most certainly go down in history as a major stain on this country. And who has been complicit in such?

    “This is despicable, even for someone that’s ‘out there’, like you Charlie. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

    Come on JohnL! Let’s face it! Elise is a disgrace! Even members of her own party have fessed up to this. She’s a liar, and though you can come on here and say ‘they all lie’ , sure, but this doesn’t take away the fact that her lies have been damaging lies, and the only way she gets away with it is because of her constituency who evidently suck-up those lies, and she will continue to lie so long as her base remain suckers, suckers whom she relies on to retain her power. Talk about despicable! The only thing I’m ashamed of is that this country has sunk as low as it has JohnL!

  24. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Stefanik has by her own choice become part of the crisis we face today. She deserves the strongest condemnation.”

    Yes sir and thank you Bob Meyer!

  25. Bob Meyer says:

    Gadfly John L et al. Very amusing and witty and… well I’ll leave it there.
    Though who our politicians and legislators are have a direct effect on the subject of drug abuse, crime and
    it’s effects, I’ll restate my admiration for Mike Delair . Thank you for sharing your struggles and coming forth and writing about it! You are part of the solution.

  26. louis curth says:

    Now at 56 comments and reader interest is flagging. (Melissa, our wise editor, is probably muttering; “good! Now we can move along to cooler topics, and some nice mundane news releases.”)

    Apparently any dream that we might look beyond our differences and seek “community” based solutions to help us with our problems remains a fanciful, but forlorn, hope. I fear that this does not bode well for the future of our young people, nor for the fate of America’s democracy.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      Louis,
      You are probably correct.
      None the less, isolating this story from the political, economic, social and legal realities of our society only over simplifies a very complex problem.
      Wishing Mr. Delair and all others dealing with this scourge the best. Thanks again for sharing your story.

  27. louis curth says:

    Bob, I can only suggest that the heart of this discussion is to understand that we cannot piecemeal solutions to problems that are so interconnected. And Melissa, we must not “sugar coat” the dire future that our future generations will inherit by sharing only the nice stories. We need bad news too, and maybe it might motivate us to fix what is wrong.

    Realistically, any hope for achieving lasting solutions to people, families, and communities which are in trouble MUST come from many different sources – both public and private, based on common sense ideas and ample financial support from religious, philanthropic, charitable, and government sources, and the caring people whose dedication turns those efforts into real action day after day.

    Snarky “gotcha” remarks may be fun, but in the long run, all they do is distract from solving problems, and reinforce the idea that anyone who doesn’t look like us or share our convictions is our enemy. We don’t need any more of that in America…

  28. Vanessa B says:

    Mike, it is brave of you to write this up and publish it, thank you.

    I just want to comment that was seems lost in all of the “debate” here is that addiction is a healthcare issue. Law enforcement is not and should not be responsible for providing healthcare. Cops are forced to do a lot of social work that is not covered by other parts of government and society, especially in places with poverty, and regardless of what you think of the state of police funding or bail laws – no policy in that area will affect someone’s ability to fight addiction ***without adequate resources devoted to giving them access to healthcare.

    A poster above noted that personal responsibility is important. For sure. But if I have diabetes, it’s a disease, if I have clinical depression, also a disease – we need to treat addiction like a disease.

    I personally don’t think most leadership in the NoCo understands the above, especially at the federal level. But it starts locally, and I hope people agree that resources besides just police are necessary to stop the vicious cycle.

    • Bob Meyer says:

      EXACTLY!

    • ADKresident says:

      I could be wrong but I did not perceive when reading Mike’s story that he was meaning law enforcement should be intervening in regards to his drug addiction but for holding him accountable for his lawlessness- something that is lacking these days on many fronts. Sending a social worker to an addict/dealer that is not ready to change his/her lifestyle is not only futile, it is a waste of $ unless there is willful cooperation.

      One of the messages I took away from his story is that It took something greater than wanting to selfishly get high and sell drugs to turn his life around- a Love for someone greater than his love for drug$- something/one to live for other than self.

      • Vanessa B says:

        His resilience, love for his family and ability to address his past are absolutely inspiring.

        But I have to respectfully and vehemently disagree both with your understanding of social work, which is an amazing and shamefully undervalued profession, and also the idea that an addict can magically kick their addiction through willpower alone. Or that addicts don’t love people and have callings/purposes greater than themselves.

        To repeat my point: assuming addiction is fundamentally different than cancer, diabetes etc is a mistake. Addicts do immoral stuff, but so do people with other diseases. So do perfectly sober people, all the time.

        • ADKresident says:

          If I implied addiction can be “magically kicked” that was not my intention. I realize that is a rare occasion. I am very familiar with the subject, both personally and having been involved with helping women in the prison system as a volunteer for many years. I am not devaluing social work. I simply do not believe throwing more $$ at a broken system is wise or productive, given the poor track record. Nor is social work ‘the’ solution.

          If you want to classify addiction as a ” disease”, have had it. But when it is approached as such, you miss 3 very important factors – an addict’s free will, their soul and the company they keep. Unlike cancer, which is a disease, a child is not born an addict (unless, tragically, the mother used while pregnant). A person falls into addiction by making one bad choice at a time, taking them down a self-destructive road and the only way out is to make the willful decision to begin to make one good choice at a time. It really does starts with ONE pivotal choice, then the fight begins, but so does the momentum of positive results. That is where a social worker, a rehab program, healthy support system & relationships, a good cause, and yes, oftentimes a renewal of their faith in God comes into play to come alongside to help them regain their life. But if the addict isn’t desiring to be clean, it is futile and sometimes their safest place to be from destroying their own life & the lives of others is prison, until they either hit rock bottom or come to their senses not wanting to spend their life in prison, which also happens. Each story I have encountered is different, but one thing remains the same: Hope is always an option when someone is ‘ready’ to change their life and many times reality hits and the light dawns on them in a prison cell.

          Never underestimate the resolute power of the human will, the desire to overcome and the intent of the heart. When they are aligned within a person’s being, no matter their circumstances, there is not only hope, but the ability to turn the tide, resulting in a renewed life. It does take time but I have witnessed and dealt with many caught in addictions in years past who have not only turned their life around but thrived! (And sadly, some who never ‘desired’ to be clean, to their own demise)

          Cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, is an entirely different beast. You don’t take the same weapons to combat that fight. Those with terminal illnesses are true victims of a disease, not drug addicts. If you view addiction as a disease then there is zero accountability or self responsibility of one’s poor choices because they can’t help it right? After all, it’s the ‘disease’, not them. Addicts are not helpless victims of a chronic disease- they are lost hurting souls that do not see the value in their own life, let alone others and get caught in a trap. They really can choose to get clean, stay clean and live a healthy life. It really is up to them. A cancer victim? Not so much. It’s just not the same thing. I see no biological or physical evidence that addiction is a “disease” unless it is categorized metaphorically as such, brought on by a downward spiral of poor choices.

          • Bob Meyer says:

            You are forgetting one very important fact. Genetic predisposition. That is one reason why one person can enjoy social alcohol consumption and not become an alcoholic while those with the genetic predisposition are at far greater risk of alcoholism. This is just like certain genetic predisposition’s for getting cancer and other diseases.

            • ADKresident says:

              Actually, no, I am not. I realize that as well. That, too, can be turned around, but that’s another subject altogether, ie: quantum science.
              (The healthcare system of our future, imo.)

              But for the sake of this discussion, predisposition to addiction is also brought on as a result of one’s own choices. And at the same token, hope is always an option, and a powerful motivator for a positive outcome, regardless. Which would you choose to mentally dwell on if you were to expect to live a successful, fulfilled life? Being a victim of circumstance or having the ability to overcome and frame your own life?

              • Bob Meyer says:

                I am saying it’s complicated and it’s not all about choice. Addiction is still a disease no matter what the causes and moralizing about it is a very slippery slope.

                • ADKresident says:

                  That is your opinion, Bob, which you are entitled to and I respect that~
                  I, however, disagree with you from my own experiences, particularly when you offer no solution but gov funded ‘social work’ or any substantial Hope. It seems to me (I could be mistaken) that you are approaching this subject from a textbook, ideological POV, not from a practical, hands on, heart-to-heart approach with the expectation of positive outcomes.

                  Without hope and a vision for their future, people perish….that is an across the board, universal truth.

                  • Bob Meyer says:

                    You are putting words in my mouth. I’m not a spazzing anyone in particular message approach or “solution“
                    Everything is on the table and what works for one person is different than what works for another person.
                    And, FYI, I am a professional, jazz musician in my 70s and I have seen much addiction, and all its manifestations, successes and failures. Luckily, my experience with drugs, and did many decades ago.

                    • Bob Meyer says:

                      That was supposed to be ended not and did.

                    • ADKresident says:

                      Sorry, Bob. What an unnecessary bite back. Didn’t mean to offend you– again. I wasn’t meaning to be contentious w/you or put words in your mouth.

                      But sure, you can have the honors of having the last word. Consider it done.

                      Have a great day.

  29. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “if I have diabetes, it’s a disease, if I have clinical depression, also a disease – we need to treat addiction like a disease.”

    Yes, because it is a disease! We need to treat dysfunction as if it is a disease…. because it is! If one looks at the abnormal social, mental and physical conditions which encompass society at large the world over….homelessness, poverty, crime, unrest, etc, etc., one would see humanity is diseased. This is not something I just conceived in my mind, this is a parcel of our history, it is written in our literature dating back to our earliest philosophers. But who reads philosophy when ‘Golf Digest’ is at hand!

    • Vanessa B says:

      Charlie, appreciate your comment and now I want to find a random issue of golf digest and write & publish “zen and the art of golf digest: philosophies of the 18 holes” 😀

      (Oh man I don’t golf hope I got the # of holes right)

  30. Lisa Beroud says:

    Keep Fighting Mike!
    💛

  31. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “If you want to classify addiction as a ” disease”, have had it.”

    Disease – A particular destructive process in an organ or organism. Addiction fits the definition of disease.

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