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Breadcrumb Start you are here >Home/News Releases/2011

August 26, 2011

Mangano Joined By Law Enforcement And Substance Abuse Professionals
To Bring Attention To Alarming Trend Of Prescription Drug Abuse

Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano was joined today by law enforcement and substance abuse professionals at a local pharmacy in Woodmere to bring attention to the alarming trend of prescription drug abuse occurring locally and nationally.

8/26/2011

Unfortunately, tragic events touched close to home last month when three people were killed at a Medford Pharmacy in the course of a robbery of prescription pain-killers, specifically Oxycodone. This past weekend, a pharmacy in Nassau County was robbed and the proceeds consisted of oxycodone. While there were no robberies of pharmacies related to opiates in 2010, there have been two this year in Nassau County. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the abuse of prescription narcotics is on the rise and killed more people in 2010 than cocaine and heroin combined. The number of deaths due to painkillers now ranks second only after the deaths caused by traffic accidents.

“The statistics are startling,” said County Executive Mangano. “We have a health crisis on our hands as prescription drug abuse in Nassau County and throughout Long Island has reached epidemic levels. Last year, 98 people died in Nassau County from Opiate use, with one-third of these deaths related to the Oxycodone use.”

Law enforcement statistics indicate that Opiate arrests are on the rise. In 2010, 127 arrests were made in connection with Opiates. With 4 months remaining in 2011, Opiate arrests have skyrocketed to 289 thus far this year. Clearly, prescription drug abuse is on the rise. As such, County Executive Mangano has directed the Nassau County Police Department to once again team up with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for a Drug Disposal Program to be held October 19th at all eight of Nassau County’s Police Precincts.In addition, please feel free to stop by one of the following drug disposal program that our Nassau County Police Department is conducting in conjunction with various municipalities and elected officials here in Nassau:

09/10/11 Town of Oyster Bay Old BP Solid Waste Disposal Complex Sweet Hollow Rd., Bethpage 9:00 am- 4:00pm
09/10/11 Town of North Hempstead Tully Park 1801 Evergreen Ave., New Hyde Park 9:30am - 3:00pm
09/24/11 Town of North Hempstead The Wheatley High School 11 Bacon Road, Old Westbury 9:30am – 3:00pm
09/24/11 Senator Carl Marcellino Syosset Fire Dept. 50 Cold Spring Rd., Syosset 10:00am – 1:00pm
09/25/11 Town of Hempstead Sanitation Dept Cherry Valley Ave Sanitation Dpt. 80 Cherry Valley Ave,, West Hempstead 1:00pm – 3:00pm
10/01/11 Town of Oyster Bay Town Hall South 977 Hicksville Rd., Massapequa 9:00am – 4:00pm
10/11/11 Senator Kemp Hannon No. Campus - David S. Mack Sports Complex Hofstra University, Hempstead 9:00am – 1:00pm
10/15/11 Town of Hempstead Town Park Point Lookout Lido Blvd. 8:00am – 2:00pm
10/15/11 Town of North Hempstead Manhasset High School 200 Memorial Place, Manhasset 9:30am – 3:00pm
11/06/11 Town of North Hempstead Solid Waste Management Authority 802 West Shore Rd., Port Washington 9:30am – 3:00pm

“Statistics show that 70% of children who abuse prescription drugs get them from family or friends,” said County Executive Mangano. “They don’t belong in our medicine cabinets. They need to be disposed of regularly and properly so they don’t wind up in the wrong hands. I urge residents to participate in Nassau County’s Drug Disposal Programs to dispose of their unwanted, unused and/or expired drugs.”

Opiates are actually the pure natural chemicals derived from the opium of a poppy plant (they include morphine and codeine). When those basic chemicals are taken to a lab and combined with synthetic material, they become Opioids (which include Heroin and Oxycodone.) Then you have completely synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

The Nassau County Office of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities Services monitors the trends in our chemical dependency treatment service network that includes community and hospital-based programs in Nassau County. Felicia Schneberg from the Nassau County Office of Substance Abuse stated: “Admissions for alcohol abuse have always represented the largest number of admissions, but have been steadily decreasing. The number of admissions for heroin and prescription drugs as a primary substance of abuse has increased over the last several years. Admissions for opioids alone have increased by 60% between 2007 and 2010. Admissions for prescription drugs including Xanax and OxyContin, and other opioids such as Vicodin and Percocet, have all increased across all the different services in Nassau County. Whereas there were 747 admissions in 2007, that number increased to 1,356 in 2010, an increase of 82%. Admissions for OxyContin alone increased 160% during the same time period. Admissions to Crisis Services, which represent the highest level of care in the county, for OxyContin increased 250% from 80 admissions in 2007 to 281 in 2010. Of particular concern is that the number of admissions of young adults in the 19-26 age groups has significantly increased. These admissions place even more importance on prevention efforts aimed towards the younger population still in middle and high school and to engage parents and communities in prevention activities.”

County Executive Mangano stated: “I am directing our Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force to create a prescription drug abuse subcommittee, solely focused on studying the growing problem in Nassau and coming up with a series of recommendations. The task force has some time ago identified prescription pain killers as “gateway drugs” to Heroin. I ask that they continue the focus on prevention, awareness, access to treatment, legislation to track prescriptions, laws restricting opiates that can be called in to pharmacies, over prescribing and misprescribing prescription drugs.”

The subcommittee will include people from all areas including, the treatment field, recovery from drug addiction, pharmaceutical, medical, and law enforcement.

Acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Tom Krumpter stated, “We understand that there are people who really need these medications, people who have legitimate pain. That being said, one suggestion for pharmacists throughout Nassau County who fear a robbery or break-in might be to consider following the lead of other pharmacies around the state and not stock these controlled substances –not keep oxycodone in the store. The medication can be ordered for customers known to the pharmacists or who come in with valid prescriptions.”

Jeffrey Reynolds, Executive Director of LI Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) stated: "Too many of our residents are being pulled into a difficult web of addiction thanks to the proliferation of opiate painkillers and the popular misconception that these pills are safer than street drugs because they are often prescribed by a doctor. Substance abuse is 100% preventable and we applaud County Executive Ed Mangano's continued leadership and today's call for a coordinated and focused effort to address this crisis."

Van V. from Narcotics Anonymous. (Part of the organizations’ traditions is not to use or publicize last names) said: “With the Opiates that have come on the market – like Oxycodone and Opana – we’ve seen young people - 16,17,18 years old - get to places in their addiction that took some people 35 to 40 years to get to. After the arrests, the hospitals and treatment centers, and the counseling, we’re here. We are the end of the line – where you go to stay clean and drug free a day at a time.”

If you or someone you know is dealing with drug addiction, including addiction to prescription drugs, there are treatment centers listed on the website. And there is Narcotics Anonymous, (www.NassauNA.org) which has helped thousands of addicts get and stay clean and drug-free with meetings throughout the County. For more information, please visit www.heroinprevention.com to see when the next drug reclamation event is planned for your neighborhood.

The Nassau County Executive’s Public Service Announcement on Prescription Drug Abuse can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1aRk4nM42A.