By Eden Laikin
More than 50 concerned Long Beach residents came together today to discuss a plan of attack on the Heroin abuse crisis, days after 2 members of the community died of drug overdoses.
Some attendees spoke about their personal losses to addiction; others spoke of their own recovery from the disease; still others offered advice as professionals in the drug treatment field. Halfway through the meeting, people broke up into smaller groups to discuss ways to proceed – mental health & addiction; education and living well.
Nassau Legislator Denise Ford (D-Long Beach) announced that she and County Executive Ed Mangano would host a free training program in Long Beach, to teach ordinary citizens how to save a life of someone overdosing on Opioids, with an antidote called Narcan. Administered through a nasal spray, Narcan can reverse the effects of a Heroin or prescription pain pill overdose. Individuals over age 18 who attend the 90 minute training at the Long Beach Public Library on March 20, from 7pm-9pm., will receive a free Narcan kit.
Joe Smith from Long Beach Reach, the local substance abuse treatment agency, also briefly addressed the crowd.
And Eden Laikin, Mangano’s representative on the Heroin and Prescription Drug Prevention task forces, talked about the County’s newly launched Behavioral Health Awareness Campaign, echoing the sentiments of those gathered about the importance of addressing any undetected mental illness that might underlie drug addiction. She said the County would soon premiere a new drug prevention program in schools that would include a social worker, trained in addictions, to address mental health concerns.
The few members that identified themselves as addicts, in recovery, spoke about always having low self- worth, and feeling like bad – instead of sick, people.
An agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency helped those in attendance organize and formulate plans of action. One common suggestion that came out of the smaller focus groups, was to figure out how to get more new, more effective, mental health and substance abuse related prevention programs in schools.
The next meeting will also be held at the Bishop Molloy Rec Center in Pt Lookout, on March 8. To rsvp for Narcan training, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 516-227-7028.