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County introduces app to fight opioid scourge

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Nassau County officials unveiled a new smartphone application aimed at tackling the opioid epidemic by providing residents with a guide to recovery and preventative services.

County Executive Laura Curran joined with Legislator Joshua Lafazan, of Woodbury, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, recovery advocates and officials from the county’s department of health and human services officials to introduce the Nassau C.A.R.E.S. application on Aug. 15.

“With Nassau C.A.R.E.S, any individual can get the help they need - whether they themselves are battling the disease of addiction, a parent of a child needing support, or a community member who simply wants to understand what resources are available,” Lafazan said.

Nassau C.A.R.E.S. came from legislation introduced by Lafazan that directed the county to create a mobile application that would contain a directory of substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services a guide for treatment centers searchable by zipcode, a calendar of local Narcan training events, support hotline telephone numbers and links to local and federal resources.

The idea is to provide residents with quick and easy access to information regarding substance abuse and recovery resources in their community and the application is available to download for free from the App Store.

“Nassau C.A.R.E.S. revolutionizes how individuals can obtain information and resources,” Lafazan said. “Gone are the days of panicked Googling and desperately searching the Internet for answers. Gone are the days of trying to contact friends to see if somebody knows of a clinic or hospital with treatment availability. And gone are the days of not knowing who you can call at 3 a.m..”

In 2018, 110 people died of opioid overdoses in Nassau County, according to the state Department of Health’s July 2019 Quarterly County Opioid Report. That is a 43 percent drop from 193 deaths in 2017 and the largest decline amongst the 10 most populous counties outside of New York City. Hospitalizations during the same period decreased by 14.5 percent across the county, it was also reported.

The county’s Department of Health and Human Services has trained more than 15,000 individuals to administer intranasal Naloxone, and Nassau officials remain committed to Operation Natalie, the County’s ongoing response to the opioid crisis which directs an influx of enforcement, treatment and community education resources to hard-hit communities.

“The introduction of the Nassau C.A.R.E.S app marks another concrete step we’ve taken to provide those struggling with addiction the support and resources they need to get healthy,” Curran said.