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Drastic Changes Ahead In Suffolk's War On Drugs

Heroin and Opiate Advisory Panel report gives 48 recommendations to fill gaps, address issues of substance abuse.

Suffolk Heroin and Opiate Advisory Panel is asking Suffolk County officials to re-evaluate the county's war on drugs, now a "crisis" situation.

The panel presented 48 recommendations aimed at improving the prevention, treatment, and recovery support for substance abuse to the Suffolk County legislature's Health and Human Services Committee Thursday afternoon.

"It is our belief that substance abuse is preventable, but requires all of us coming together, parents, schools, treatment providers. … ," said Jeffrey Reynolds, chairman of the advisory panel and executive director of Long Island Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence.

The 12-member advisory panel, formed by the legislature on May 26, produced a 51-page report detailing gaps and issues surrounding drug abuse in Suffolk County based on six months of meetings, research and two public hearings.

"Heroin is what brought up the talk and heroin is what's gotten the attention. However, we recognize alcohol use, use of marijuana and other drugs factor heavily into addiction," Reynolds said.

One of the primary issues identified in prevention was a lack of drug education, from alcohol to misuse of prescription drugs at all levels of the community.

"A lot of physicians are not fully informed or aware of potential misuse of different types of medications. It's not just medical doctors but dentists who are making prescriptions for the same types of drugs," said Kristie Golden, representing South Oaks Hospital in Amityville.

In reaction, panel members suggested as recommendation No. 1 a public education campaign including public service announcements. Other suggestions mirrored existing programs, but creating a permanent medication drop-off, like those the county schedules periodically with the police precincts.

However other prevention suggestions are bound to stir controversy, as noted by Legis. Kate Browning WF-Shirley, mandatory drug-testing of high school athletes as part of their pre-season physicals.

Prevention was just the first step as the panel's vice chairman Jack Hoffmann, of Eastern Long Island Hospital, pointed to gaps in available treatment for addicts.

"When parents are in a crisis, parents want a place they can take and leave their child to get help while they get their families living in an organized fashion again for a period of time," Hoffman said.

All too often, these are detox clinics who are not designed to deal with drug abuse, Hoffman said, leading the panel to recommend increased inpatient and out-patient residential recovery programs.

However, the panel also wants Suffolk to take it one step further in recovery, by providing more atmospheres and methods to enable recovering addicts to stay sober.

Their reports recommends and advocates the establishment of recovery community centers, hosting 12-step programs and supports meetings for teens and their families, as well as a possible regional recovery school – a high school for addicts struggling to stay sober.

Reynolds said the panel has six months remaining, to shape these broad recommendations into specific action points, then support their enactment.

However, the total cost of enacting these suggestions in altering the County's war on drugs is unknown. Panel members recognized the county's fiscal crisis, having just passed a polarizing budget, but said the cost was not a consideration.

"The money you invest in evidence-based prevention, money people spend on prevention is money well spent as it ultimately saves peoples' lives," Reynolds said.

LongIslandTaxesRCorrupt January 09, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Americans need to WAKE UP! I watch a show called "Border Wars" as stated on one episode just at that one crossing they catch 7000 pounds PER DAY. Maybe they catch only 2% so about98% gets through. We need to bring our Troops home to guard our borders and tougher laws to stop Judges with revolving doors of justice. Stop pampering people who do drugs, help them but they need to face the consequences. Eg: a kid caught in school should have to be suspended for a year.harsher penalties are the only cure for prevention. Parents need to be parents and friends and NOT only friends.
Cindy January 10, 2011 at 01:14 PM
If it is designed like the special ed system, the student would use the dollars allocated from their home district. This is already in place in private schools that serve children with disabilities.
LongIslandTaxesRCorrupt January 10, 2011 at 10:27 PM
All you hear from Schools is how over worked they are and the State harder curriculum,blah blah blah. schools need to do the job they are hired for,TEACH!!! its just another scam for schools to get more money. "It is our belief that substance abuse is preventable, but requires all of us coming together, parents, schools, treatment providers. … ," said Jeffrey Reynolds, chairman of the advisory panel and executive director of Long Island Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence. One of the primary issues identified in prevention was a lack of drug education, from alcohol to misuse of prescription drugs at all levels of the community. Of course he would say all this it keeps him having a job. Give me a break,who doesn't know that "too much Alcohol and misuse of drugs" is bad. No matter the dumb laws Elected officials make just to reinvent the wheel with their name in gold on a bill,like the cough medication. it does no good to have these laws when parents still buy this stuff, stores will still sell to minors just like Alcohol because of the LACK OF ENFORCEMENT of these laws, no good to have laws if no enforcement,how many fines,arrest have been done since the cough medicine law or has there been even one fine? The problem is a society with no MORALS of Parents,Teachers,Elected officials,sports stars,etc why because the penalties if they even get caught is a joke.
LongIslandTaxesRCorrupt January 10, 2011 at 10:34 PM
"The 12-member advisory panel, formed by the legislature on May 26, produced a 51-page report detailing gaps and issues surrounding drug abuse in Suffolk County based on six months of meetings, research and two public hearings." Sounds like the wasted Health care bill. again lack of ENFORCEMENT then it will never stop. Why do sports players do steroids because nothing happens to them like Bonds,Mcguire,etc Laws are useless if its not enforced.
LongIslandTaxesRCorrupt January 10, 2011 at 10:39 PM
"war on drugs" when you have 30-40 teens hanging out in Sleepys parking lot at nights,they aint just socializing,whats Nowick,Police,etc doing about that? its in Nowicks own area and nothings done. the next day the condoms and crack viles are in the parking lot. AGAIN LACK OF ENFORCEMENT BY ELECTED OFFICIALS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT IS WHY IT CONTINUES

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