SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)— Kein Trease had been working for corporate America for half of his adult life. Now, he can be seen changing lives at a local nonprofit.
Education leader of the Onondaga County Prevention Network, Trease says he quit his day job in business after attending a Prevention Network Conference.
The Prevention Network Conference consisted of personal testimonies and how the agency saved lives battling with addiction.
During his first couple of days with the agency, Trease decided to volunteer. He soon fell in love and decided to put his skills to the test and ditch corporate America.
“This agency was doing something, that kind of got me away from, I don’t know, working for just a paycheck,” Trease said.
Now, four years under his belt, Trease has seen a significant rise in the opioid epidemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 841,000 people have died since 1999 from drug overdoses.
For Onondaga County, 156 opioid deaths happened in 2020 while 127 in 2019. This makes a 23 percent increase.
Recently, Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office has reported 47 new deaths in the past seven months. Out of the 47 deaths, 45 have involved prescription pain killers: fentanyl, heroin and morphine.
Trease believes COVID-19 has made the epidemic worse with the lack of support, unavailable access to treatments and constant isolation.
“If it’s individuals who were in recovery, not using, getting cut off… that is tough to lose that support system. We’ve seen individuals that we’ve worked with in this agency go back and start using again,” Trease said.
However, with the uptick of opioid cases this past year, Trease says he’s never regretted his choice of switching career paths. He is simply happy and excited to go into work everyday.
“I get to go home. It’s different every day. I meet new people and it’s opened my eyes to what our community is here,” Trease said. “It’s rewarding.”