By Eden Laikin
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and his prescription drug abuse task force hosted an Overdose Prevention and Education Workshop on Wednesday that brought together parents, friends, recovering addicts, and treatment professionals to talk about tackling the latest deadly drug epidemic, together – and possibly saving a life.
At least 149 people in Nassau died last year from abusing or misusing prescription Opiates or Heroin, toxicologist records show. That’s an average of 3 residents a week. Statistics that shocked County Executive Mangano’s wife, Linda, who addressed the crowd at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage.
But Dr Thomas Jan, a pain-management doctor in Massapequa, told attendees overdoses are rarely immediate and instead often happen over 1 to 3 hours, and that if you recognize the early signs you could possibly save the life of someone overdosing on Opiates. He said that using simple “rescue breathing” to get the overdosing person breathing on their own again. If not, he said a shot of a substance called Narcan can reverse the effects of the overdose and save the person’s life.
Trained in addiction medicine and overdose prevention, Dr Jan detailed the early warning signs of an overdose and demonstrated how to use the life-saving Narcan. The Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency (LICADD) gave Narcan kits, free – with instructions – to each attendee over the age of 18 as part of the “Life-Op training” the agency brought to Nassau County.
Earlier in the evening, parents John & Angela J. of Westbury shared about the recent death of their 23-year-old son, Michael – a handsome, loving, bright and athletic child whose depression and drug & alcohol addiction led to his dying way too soon from an overdose.
Teri Kroll talked about her son Timothy’s decline into addiction, started by painkiller prescriptions from a doctor she brought him to for depression and migraine headaches. Timmy, who like Michael, came from a typical, loving, middle-class family, died “965” days ago, his mother said, but not before filing a complaint against the doctor with Nassau Police.
And Ann P. spoke about being “one of the lucky ones” because her Heroin-addicted daughter, Danielle, 28, found recovery and just celebrated a year clean and free from drugs.
Prior to that, Felicia Schneberg – drug education trainer for Nassau County’s Office of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency – spoke about parenting, recognizing signs of drug experimentation and abuse and how a teenagers brain isn’t fully developed enough to make sound, rational decisions about drug use.
A couple of young college students from East Meadow, who attended the workshop, said they lost 2 friends recently – one to a mix of prescription drugs & alcohol and the other to Heroin. Other friends, they say, are struggling with addiction. They left the workshop with a life-saving kit, instructions and a lot of helpful knowledge about addiction, treatment and recovery.