LONG ISLAND ADDICTED

March 15, 2018 at 6:45 pm

The opioid epidemic is exploding on Long Island with overdoses claiming a record number of lives in the area. The startling statistics in this community are contributing to a nationwide crisis. Nassau County Executive, Laura Curran, is here with the details on the problem and an update on the fight to end addiction on Long Island.

Aired on March 15, 2018.

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GOOD EVENING AND WE
"METROFOCUS," I'M RAFAEL P.
RAMON.
ACCORDING TO RECENT NUMBERS FROM
THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL,
OVERDOSES FROM OPIODS JUMP BY
30% IN JUST ONE YEAR.
OVERDOSES ARE UP ACROSS EVERY
AGE GROUP AND IN EVERY REGION OF
THE COUNTRY, INCLUDING OURS.
LONG ISLAND HAS BEEN HIT
ESPECIALLY HARD.
ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL REPORTS,
ABOUT 600 LONG ISLANDERS DIED
FROM OPIOD OVERDOSES LAST YEAR
ALONE.
ONE COMMUNITY AT THE HEART OF
THE CRISIS IN LONG ISLAND IS
MASSAPEQUA IN NASSAU COUNTY.
AND FUJOINING ME NOW IS NASSAU
COUNTY EXECUTIVE LAURA P. HEARN
TO TALK TO US ABOUT THE PROBLEM.
ARE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT OPIOD
OVERDOSES ON LONG ISLAND,
PARTICULARLY IN YOUR COUNTY?
>> WE REALLY DO HAVE A
EPIDEMIC, LAST YEAR WE HAD
NEARLY 300 OVERDOSES AND 200 OF
THEM WERE FATAL.
IF WE HAD THAT MANY PEOPLE
GETTING MURDERED IN OUR COUNTY,
THERE WOULD BE SUCH OUTRAGE.
>> SO LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT
ABOUT THE SOLUTIONS, YOU HAVE
RECENTLY INTRODUCED A PROGRAM
CALLED O.D. MAP.
TELL US WHAT THAT IS AND HOW
IT'S HELPING TO DEAL WITH THIS
CRISIS.
>> SURE.
OUR POLICE COMMISSIONER PATRICK
RIDER CAME ONE THIS O.D. MAP.
AND IT BASICALLY TARGETING
CRIMES ASSOCIATED WITH DRUG USE,
LIKE CAR BREAK INS, ROBBERIES
AND WHEN YOU HAVE A CLUSTER OF
THOSE KINDS OF EVENTS HAPPENING,
OVERDOSES AND LARCENIES, YOU
KNOW YOU'VE GOT A PROBLEM THERE.
AND SO WE'RE BRINGING OUR POLICE
FORCE IN TO -- WE'RE WORKING ON
AWARENESS AND TREATMENT AS WELL.
AND WE'RE WORKING VERY HARD ON
FILLING A TREATMENT GAP.
BECAUSE SOMEONE CAN BE TREATED
WITH A MEDICINE CALLED NARCAN
FROM AN OVERDOSE.
AND THEN THERE'S NO TREATMENT.
THEY'RE PUT RIGHT BACK ON THE
STREET TO START USING AGAIN.
>> GOING BACK TO O.D. MAP, TO
WHAT DEGREE DOES THAT GO TO LAW
ENFORCEMENT AND ARRESTS, TO WHAT
DEGREE DOES THAT DEAL WITH THE
TREATMENT YOU SAY IS NECESSARY?
>> THAT'S SUCH A GREAT QUESTION.
WE HAVE HAD AN OPPORTUNITY, TWO
SO FAR, ONE IN MASSAPEQUA, THERE
WERE ABOUT 60 ARRESTS, DRUG
RELATED ARRESTS, OF THOSE, FOUR
WERE DEALERS, SO THEY WILL BE
HELD ACCOUNTABLE.
THOSE USERS, THOSE ADDICTS, ONCE
THEY'RE ARRESTED, WE CAN STEER
THEM TOWARDS DIVERSION AND
TREATMENT, SO THAT'S WHERE THE
HEALTH PROFESSIONALS COME IN.
>> LAST WEEK WE HAD AN OP-ED,
AND YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB,
AND MORE TREATMENT, MORE
RESOURCES ARE NECESSARY.
ARE YOU GETTING THE NECESSARY
RESOURCES FROM THE STATE, FROM
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DEAL
WITH THIS IN NASSAU COUNTY?
>> WE HAVE TO HARNESS THE
RESOURCES WE HAVE AVAILABLE
RIGHT NOW, MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT
WE HAVE GOT.
WE HAVE TO REALLY ENGAGE IN OUR
SCHOOLS.
AND THAT'S THE CONVERSATION
WE'RE HAVING NOW.
IN NASSAU, WE HAVE 56
INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICTS,
THEY'RE THEIR OWN ENTITIES, SO
WE'RE ENGAGING WITH EACH AND
EVERY ONE OF THEM TO TRY AND
TACKLE THIS CRISIS.
>> SO THIS CRISIS, THE
PRESIDENT, PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS
SAID, IT IS PARTICULARLY
IMPORTANT TO HIM, HAS THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN FACT
DEMONSTRATED THAT THIS IS A
CRISIS AND HELP YOUSU
SUFFICIENTLY?
>> WE ARE WORKING WITH THE
STATE, BUT WE'RE ALSO WORKING
VERY CLOSELY WITH OUR COMM
COMMU
COMMUNITIES.
SO WE'RE HAVING COMMUNITY
FORUMS, WE HAD ONE IN MASSAPEQUA
WHERE SCORES OF RESIDENTS TURNED
OUT.
THEY'RE LISTENING TO OUR POLICE
OFFICERS, THEY'RE LISTENING TO
OUR DRUG RESOURCE EXPERTS.
GETTING THEM THE INFORMATION
THEY NEED, SO WHAT ARE THE
WARNING SIGNS, THOSE PIN PRICK
PUPILS, FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE ON
OPIODS.
BECAUSE ALL TOO OFTEN A CHILD
HAS DIED AND THE PARENT NEVER
YOU THEIR CHILD WAS USING, OR
THEIR FRIENDS KNEW BUT NEVER
TOLD.
SO WE'RE REALLY TRYING TO GET
PEOPLE TO BE AWARE AND THAT'S
THE EDUCATION PIECE.
>> WHAT'S MAKING THIS CRISIS
PARTICULARLY DEADLY, WHAT'S
KILLING PEOPLE IS THIS SYNTHETIC
OPIOD, FENTANYL.
>> FENTANYL IS MANY TIMES
STRONGER THAN HEROIN AND MORE
PURE, AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE
SEEING THE SPIKE IN OVERDOSES.
THE NARCAN, IS A GOD SEND
BECAUSE IF SOMEONE'S OVERDOSING,
YOU CAN TREAT THEM WITH NARCAN,
THEY'RE BACK IMMEDIATELY.
BUT IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE
TREATMENT PART, THEY GO BACK
IMMEDIATELY.
>> SOME SAY THERE'S AN
UNINTENDED NEGATIVE ASPECT TO
NARCON BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE THAT
IT WILL SAVE THEM FROM AN OPIOD
DEATH, AND THAT MAKES THEM EASE
UP ON THE CONCERNS.
ARE YOU FINDING THAT?
>> ABSOLUTELY.
YOU HEAR ABOUT THESE INCIDENTS,
THESE ANECDOTES OF PEOPLE
GETTING TOGETHER, THEY'RE DOING
HEROIN, OR FENTANYL OR WHATEVER
IT IS, AND THERE'S NARCAN IN THE
MIDDLE OF THE TABLE THERE, SO
THEY CAN TREAT THEM AND GO RIGHT
ON TO PARTYING AGAIN.
IT'S A PROBLEM.
IT'S A REAL DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD.
IT A GOD SEND, BECAUSE IT COULD
SAVE YOUR LIFE AND PUT YOU ON
THE RIGHT PATH.
BUT WE'RE HEARING FROM OUR
POLICE OFFICERS AND OUR
FIREFIGHTERS, ALL OF OUR FIRST
RESPONDERS ARE TRAINED IN HOW TO
USE THIS.
SO YOU OVERDOSE ON FRIDAY, YOU
OVERDOSE ON SATURDAY, BY SUNDAY
YOU'RE USING AGAIN AND BY MONDAY
YOU'RE DEAD.
>> WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?
IS THIS CRISIS GOING TO GET
WORSE BEFORE IT GETS BETTER?
>> I THINK WE ARE A HOLD OF IT.
WE ARE HAPPY WITH THE POLICE
COMMISSIONER MAKING THIS MAP, TO
REALLY ZERO IN, HOLD THE DEALERS
ACCOUNTABLE AND GET THE ADDICTS
THE TREATMENT THEY NEED TO GET
THEM OUT OF THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL
OF ADDICTION.
>> THANK YOU FOR JOINING US
TODAY, IT BEEN AN IMPORTANT
CONVERSATION.
>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, and Judy and Josh Weston.

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