A month ago, Calhoun High School Principal David Seinfeld reached out to Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District officials with a heavy heart. Saul Lerner, the district’s director of health and physical education, said Seinfeld called to say that he was worried because he had recently attended three funerals of former Calhoun students, all of whom had died of heroin overdoses.
“He said it had been weighing on him, that there’s a problem and that we need to do something,” Lerner said. “The one thing we decided that we didn’t want to do was a one-day thing … that didn’t have a lasting effect.”
Lerner said that Seinfeld’s call was a catalyst for change, as school administrators, elected leaders, police officials and parents have come together to develop plans to confront the growing tide of heroin abuse in the community. They began with a seminar at which participants learned how to counteract a potentially fatal opioid overdose. The Central High School District and Bellmore-Merrick Community Parent Center sponsored the event.
Roughly 100 people attended the workshop, at the Brookside School in North Merrick, on March 31. Felicia Schneberg, director of education and training at the Nassau County Office of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities Services, offered information about the opioid antidote naloxone, which is trademarked as Narcan, teaching participants how to administer it.
Schneberg, who has researched the use of drugs and alcohol for more than 35 years, has presented more than 1,300 Narcan training sessions around the county. While Narcan was approved in 1971, she noted, it was not available for widespread use until 2006.
Narcan counteracts the potentially fatal effects of depressants such as heroin, morphine, methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone, OxyContin, codeine, Demerol, Dilaudid and fentanyl.