By Samantha Buda and Eden Laikin
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced that County substance abuse professionals will participate this month a Families in Support of Treatment (F.I.S.T) Awareness and Recovery Event, to be hosted in collaboration with Long Beach’s new community coalition – RIP-LB, on Friday, July 25th from 6:30pm – 9:00pm at Long Beach Middle School.
F.I.S.T. is a recently formed grassroots organization made up of people frustrated with the Opiate epidemic that’s affecting too many young people. In Nassau County, at least 156 people died as a direct result of Heroin or prescription painkillers in 2013. Statistics indicate that one person in the U.S. dies every 15 minutes due to Opiate abuse.
The RIP-LB/FIST event on July 25th will provide information on the current opiate epidemic, awareness of the disease of addiction itself, and prevention efforts. Stories of recovery and loss to the disease will be shared by families. Local experts, resources and networking opportunities will be available.
Attendees will be provided the opportunity to visit tables featuring over 50 organizations and agencies, representing everything from Long-Term Residential Programs, Inpatient Rehab and Detox and Outpatient Programs, to self-help 12-step recovery groups such as Alcohol Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Families Anonymous.
Officials from Nassau County’s Office of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities will have a table promoting its Behavioral Health Awareness Campaign – which explores the connection between substance abuse disorder, mental illness and physical health. The County will also offer attendees the opportunity to register for one of its upcoming Narcan seminars.
FIST’s purpose is multifaceted as they strive to increase awareness, educate those affected by the disease of addiction, and offer information on addiction and recovery resources. The group’s main initiative has been to take the decision for treatment out of the hands of insurance companies and put it in those of health care professionals. Part of that focus is to increase access to treatment by removing barriers, and to unite individuals, so that collectively they have a voice in the decisions that are being made concerning families, clients, and communities.
The Governor is expected to soon sign legislation – supported by local and state elected officials – requiring all insurance companies to cover addiction treatment as long as a physician refers the patient.
RIP-LB was formed by concerned Long Beach residents after the deaths of two neighbors to heroin overdoses just hours apart. The group strives to bring residents together to create and participate in healthy alternative activities, as well as to spread awareness.