By Eden Laikin
In addition to the more than 119 Nassau residents who died of Heroin and Opiate overdoses in 2013, Nassau police responded to at least another 821 non-fatal drug overdoses throughout the County last year – that’s an average of about 65 overdoses being reported to 911, every month; and, between 14 and 21 each week.
The community that saw the most fatal drug overdoses was Hicksville with 8 deaths in 2013; police department records show; followed by Valley Stream with 7; Hempstead with 6; and Levittown with 5. East Meadow, East Rockaway, Elmont, Oceanside, Wantagh and Westbury each reported 4 fatal overdoses last year.
These statistics don’t include Nassau’s incorporated villages or its two cities – Long Beach and Glen Cove
Overall, 15 Nassau communities reported at least 20 non-fatal drug overdoses each, during 2013.
Massapequa had more reported overdoses than any other community, with 54. North Massapequa had 25 overdoses last year. Hicksville had the next highest number of reported overdoses, with 51; followed by Levittown, with 50; Valley Stream and the Bellmores with 44 each; Baldwin and Oceanside with 41 each; East Meadow with 40; Bethpage with 30; Elmont with 27; Westbury with 21; and Franklin Square with 20.
These numbers were compiled by the police department based on officer’s responses to emergency calls for the overdose victims, and were input before the Medical Examiner’s toxicology findings.
“While it’s true that Opiate-related deaths, overall, have decreased by 23% in Nassau, from 2012-2013; if one of those lost is your loved one, then one is too many,” said County Executive Ed Mangano. “That’s why we’re always re-evaluating, updating, and making more aggressive – our drug prevention, education, awareness and enforcement efforts.”
Most of those who overdosed last year were between the ages of 21 and 30; 57% of them were male and 82% were Caucasian.
Meanwhile, Nassau police made 500 arrests for Heroin-related crimes in 2013, and 574 for other Opiate-related crimes that year. That’s up from 2011, which saw just 228 arrests for Heroin and 437 for other Opiates.
Also last year, 1,113 Heroin abusers were admitted to inpatient and/or outpatient substance abuse treatment in Nassau County and there were another 709 admitted for treatment of addiction to Oxycodone and other Opiates. That’s up from 984 admitted with Heroin as their primary drug.
What is Nassau County doing to help?
We hold free, public Narcan trainings several times a month in communities across the county. We advertise the training events through social and print media, on then County website and through drug treatment programs. We arm trainees over age 18 with nasal Narcan kits.
We recently launched a Behavioral Health Awareness Campaign (BHAC) to make people aware of the connection between substance abuse disorder and mental health issues. As part of the BHAC, we’re starting a brand new drug prevention, education and awareness program for middle school students that will take into account and address how people with substance abuse tend to also have a co-occurring mental health condition. The goal, therefore, is to make young people aware of the healthy approaches that can be used to deal with feelings of depression or anxiety.
We contract with 32 different community-based drug/alcohol treatment agencies that each provide individual and group counseling for the substance abuser and family members; we contract with 29 Nassau school districts to help with their drug prevention programs; and we have a referral service that helps the user access the correct treatment needed.
We help communities form active coalitions to fight the Opioid crisis;
As part of the Nassau Heroin Prevention Task Force, we also hold trainings for substance abuse treatment professionals, informing them about new treatment alternatives
We, for the first time, are tracking and mapping fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses and drug sales and other drug-related crimes, to look for trends and patterns.
If you or a loved one has a problem with drugs or alcohol, here are some places to go for help:
LI Crisis Center 24/7 helpline (516) 481-4000
Nassau County Office of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency – Main Number 516-227-7057
Nassau County Office of Mental Health and Chemical Dependency – Overdose Prevention Training Center (Narcan) 516-227-7028
Mental Health Association of Nassau County 516-504-HELP (4357)
Narcotics Anonymous 516-827-9500
NAFAS (Nassau Alliance for Addiction Services) www.nassaualliance.org<http://www.nassaualliance.org>