Central New York, Community, Health

Oswego County Director of Public Health Says County’s Drinking Problem is Improving

Jiancheng’s Oswego County Health Department photo from their directory website, taken on November 2, 2012.

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By Biko Skalla, SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) –  Oswego County has the third highest rate of binge drinking among adults in New York, according to the most recent study done by the New York State Department of Health.

The study from 2015 said 25% of adults in Oswego reported they had binge drank, (men had five or more drinks or women had four or more drinks) at least one night within the past 30 days. Jiancheng Huang, who has been Oswego County’s Public Health Director since 2012, said that he is aware of the numbers but that the trend is changing.

“We are aware of our county’s health behavior issues, and our community has been working on it for many years,” Huang said. “It has accumulated for many years and it will take time to make improvement.”

Huang said one of the biggest initiatives in preventing alcohol and drug abuse is reaching out to kids. He said the department and the community come together to form committees like the Drug Prevention Coalition, to educate those who cannot legally drink yet on the dangers and consequences that come with substance abuse.

“Our sessions go to school districts and SUNY Oswego campus,” Huang said. “Last year we reached out to close to 10,000 teenagers and young adults.”

Huang pointed out that alcoholism is not the only issue the Oswego Health Department faces and therefore all of their resources cannot be devoted just to alcohol and drug abuse.

“We have chronic diseases related to health behavior like smoking and lack of physical activity, and so we are fighting things like cancer, like obesity, diabetes,” Huang said.

Huang said that receiving more money from the state would increase the department’s ability to address the county’s drug and alcohol issue, but with the resources he has, he is happy with what the department is accomplishing.