Why We Exist
America’s response to the public health emergency of drug and alcohol abuse has focused on treatment, recovery and the criminal justice system. For the most part, these are aspects of the problem that have surfaced after substance use has already reached a crisis stage.
Substance Abuse Information Resources (SAIR) was created in 2013 to fill the need for education to prevent drug and alcohol misuse before it starts or to interrupt its progression at the earliest stages possible. SAIR wants to reach out and help those who seek answers about addiction and the options available to individuals facing misuse and abuse, and the family, friends, associates, neighbors and others in the community who want to help them.
SAIR’s message is one of hope to those seeking knowledge and answers that our education programs will lead to successful results.
Our education series will provide information to allow participants to better understand substance abuse and addiction. Our topics include:
- Signs and symptoms
- Ripple effects
- What now? What next?
We will attempt to identify appropriate options that can lead to successful outcomes.
Executive Director Gregory Spencer
Greg founded Substance Abuse Information Resources in 2014 and served as its executive director until his death on Dec. 14, 2022, at age 82.
The Albany native, who graduated from Siena College in 1963 after a standout basketball career, worked for more than two decades in sales and marketing. In 1984, Greg started on the road to personal recovery by participating in his first 12-step meetings, and he reached out to assist others in need of help with substance-abuse issues for the rest of his life.
In 1989, he entered the field of addictions counseling. Upon earning a state credential as an alcohol/substance abuse counselor (CASAC), he began more than a decade as a substance abuse clinician at Clinical Services and Consultation (now SPARC). While there, Greg conducted individual and group counseling sessions for a variety of clients struggling with alcohol and drug issues.
Leaving Clinical Services in 2000, Greg held numerous positions in the addictions field, primarily as a consultant and educator. Through his professional work and decades in recovery, Greg touched the lives of thousands of individuals facing the challenge of dependence on alcohol and drugs. Many of them credited Greg with helping to get them into treatment or to keep them sober though his unshakable belief in the 12-step approach to recovery. He often used the lessons he learned in 38 years of sobriety to encourage other alcoholics and addicts, usually accompanied by a hug, a pat on the back or one of his beaming smiles.
Greg created HUG, an education and training program emphasizing “Hope,” “Understanding” and “Guidance,” for counselors and others employed in chemical dependency care. HUG education credits are approved by the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services for substance abuse counselor accreditation.
Greg’s other accomplishments included:
- Helped set up drug courts in two counties.
- Executive director of “Road to Recovery,” a project funded by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and the Division of Criminal Justice Services to divert offenders in nine counties away from incarceration and into drug treatment programs.
- Helped establish several professional groups for local treatment providers.
- Served as transitional alcohol and substance abuse coordinator for Albany County.
- Established a screening and assessment program for Pearl Street Counseling whose primary function was to evaluate more than 700 individuals arrested for drinking-driving violations and report results to the courts and lawyers.
Greg’s personal and professional experiences led him to conclude that prevention and intervention are weak links in the struggle against substance misuse and addiction. In addition, while most of the focus on addiction is geared toward the person in need of treatment (including their arrest and punishment), few resources and answers are easily found by family members and others who want to help the struggling individual.
He believed that the opioid crisis only reinforced the need for a group like SAIR, where people misusing drugs and alcohol and those close to them can turn for information when they are in crisis.
Recovery is a legacy of the Spencer family. Greg’s father Fred, mother Joan and aunt Georgea were all pioneering advocates for people seeking to overcome drug and alcohol problems. All three were instrumental in creating treatment and 12-step programs in the Capital Region beginning in the 1950s. Many of those programs, including SPARC and the Addictions Care Center of Albany, continue to help people in recovery today. More information on the Spencer family is contained below.
The SAIR Board of Directors
- Joel Stashenko, chair
- Members (in transition)
Substance Abuse Information Resources (SAIR) is an independent 501(c)(3) corporation that is not affiliated with any substance abuse care provider, service organization, insurer or government agency. We are self-supporting through individual and community fundraising and contributions.
THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information contained on this website is not intended to be a substitute for, or to be relied upon as, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This website is for informational and educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition.