Nassau County officials yesterday joined with members of the Long Beach Police Department for a roundtable discussion on the Heroin and pain pill epidemic, which has claimed the lives of 12 residents in the City by the Sea since January 2012, and 273 Countywide during that period.
Approximately 60 residents attended the event, including a dozen local school officials, and a resident whose son died of a Heroin overdose just weeks ago. Legislator Denise Ford, who lives in Long Beach, attended along with representatives from several 12-step recovery groups.
The panel, led by Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tagney, included Eden Laikin – Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s representative for drug abuse prevention efforts; School Superintendent David Weiss; pediatrician Dr. Matthew Cohen; Judy Vining from Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking; Psychologist Monica Pal from Long Beach Reach (drug treatment center) and a representative from SAIL, a mental health counseling facility.
Tagney told those gathered that while 1 Long Beach resident died of a drug overdose in 2011, the number increased to 6 in 2012 – one of which was Heroin-related. Another 6 people overdosed and died in Long Beach in 2013 – 4 were Heroin related. There have already been 4 fatal overdoses in 2014.
Superintendent Weiss assured the audience that Long Beach school officials were “deeply committed to the growth and development of the whole child…and their social-emotional learning.” He spoke about programs the district offers to help students make good decisions, but said he and others are always asking “what is it we can do better?” The districts health curriculum starts in the 2nd grade, Weiss said, when children are taught how to advocate for themselves. Every school has a social worker, psychologist, nurse, and Long Beach Reach counselor.
Cohen, a local pediatrician, spoke about the signs and symptoms of Opioid drug use and the oral assessment he gives his patients during routine physical exams.
Laikin spoke about the County’s successful Overdose Prevention program which has so far trained more than 1,200 ordinary citizens to save a life with a medication called Naloxone, or Narcan, which is administered by a nasal spray. She said the 90-minute training also includes signs and symptoms of Opioid misuse, how to recognize an Opioid overdose, how to first try rescue breathing and the need to clean out your medicine cabinet of unused pain medication.
County Executive Mangano and Legislator Ford are hosting a free, public Narcan training at the Long Beach Library on March 20 from 7pm-9pm to meet the urgent needs of the community.