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Friday, March 6, 2015
Prescription drugs are a problem
Rising numbers in Nassau County opiate abuse
Courtesy Nassau County District Attorney
Opiate arrests increased by 16 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Prescription drug abuse in the United States has spiked dramatically in the past few years, and Nassau County is no exception.

Illegal use of prescription drugs has become so widespread across the country that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified the abuse of these drugs as an epidemic. According to “A Response to the Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse,” a fact sheet published in 2011 by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs in the country, following marijuana, and substance abuse treatment admissions by patients aged 12 and older increased more than fourfold from 1998 to 2008.

“Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportion in the United States,” said Charles Gennario, commissioner of the Rockville Centre Police Department and a member of the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force. “Police executives have realized we are not going to arrest our way to ridding our society of this problem.”

According to Gennario, prescription abuse is the fastest growing cause of death among middle-aged women, with a 400 percent increase in the last two years. Abuse is rapidly growing among youth as well, he said; 2,500 children between 12 and 17 experiment with prescription drug use for the first time each day.

“These are staggering statistics,” he added.

Nassau County’s figures don’t look much better. Between 2012 and 2013, opiate and heroin arrests in the county increased by 16 and 20 percent respectively, according to charts provided by the Nassau County Police Department.

“I can tell you that we’ve seen a consistent escalation of prescription drug use over the last seven or eight years,” said Art Rosenthal, executive director of Confide Counseling and Consultation Center in Rockville Centre, a non-for-profit dedicated to helping any individual, family, group, organization or institution overcome substance abuse or related problems. “We’re seeing people come in here who are young, who are high school age, pre-college age kids. We see their families and we see the devastation it causes…. It’s a very elusive, insidious type of illness.”

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WakeUpEveryone

I'm glad to see that this epidemic is finally getting some attention, especially in the five towns area. This has been an enormous problem for over ten years. I have watched countless kids in my neighborhood fall victim to these prescription drugs being given out by MD's like M&M's. How is it that a 19 year old kid can go to a doctor with fraudulent tests results and receive 120 30mg oxycontin pills, EVERY MONTH FOR YEARS? Oxycontin is a synthetic heroin that causes almost immediate addiction. Then one or two pills don't do the trick so they take more and more to achieve the same high. Thus, accounting for the almost 17,000 deaths due to overdoses A YEAR since 2008. We lost 4000 servicemen in Iraq in five years and the country is outraged. Where is the outrage against Perdue Pharma and the doctors who are making huge amounts of money on the backs of our youth? The FDA refuses to classify hydrocodone as a schedule 2 drug making it harder to get. The DEA and committee went to them almost 7 months ago and they agreed to make the change, but they have not done it yet. Why? We are so hell bent on arresting addicts and using government resources to punish them, but we let this go on?

I have personally reported two MD's to the Nassau County DA's office and they are still in practice. So as far as Im concerned this is all lip service by this office. They say they see the problem but really do little to help the situation. The drug court in Nassau County is so mismanaged that anyone that is caught up in it runs the risk of relapse only because you have people working there that don't really understand addiction and don't know how to provide the right services for these people. These kids don't have a chance in this system unless they have a good support system at home. What about those that don't?

In my neighborhood alone, 90% of the kids from the ages 16-25 are using these pills. And then when they cant afford them they go to heroin because its cheaper. We have a major problem on our hands. These generations are going down and there is still so much ignorance in regard to this issue.

I respect what DA Rice had to say, I only hope that she continues to educate herself on this issue and attempts to find alternatives to arrests and throwing addicts in jail, such as proper rehab and relapse prevention. Right now, the rehab services offered to Nasssau County residents are sub-par, disorganized, and set people up for relapse. They need to put the energy into assuring proper transition from detox to rehab without forcing these addicts to go back on the street while they wait for a bed. The drug court mandates rehabs then when they go, the system is set up for failure because most times red tape gets in the way. They are expecting people who have a major problem to circumvent this system when they don't even have the tools to function in day to day life.

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