MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder announced that newly-certified data from the County Medical Examiner’s Office indicates that fatal heroin overdoses have decreased nearly 25 percent between 2016 and 2018.
In 2018, 147 individuals died from opioids in Nassau County, a decrease from 195 in 2016, or approximately 24.6 percent.
“The opioid epidemic continues to be the most pressing public health crisis facing our communities, but this dramatic drop in overdose deaths shows that our work to bridge the treatment gap is saving lives,” DA Singas said. “Since 2015, when we partnered with Maryhaven’s New Hope Center to provide 24/7 inpatient treatment on-demand, the facility has helped more than 2,200 people receive the support they need to break free from addiction. I’m grateful to Catholic Health Services and Northwell Health for their support, and for the commitment and leadership of County Executive Curran, the Nassau Police Department, and our law enforcement partners at every level for their commitment to ending this deadly epidemic.”
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “District Attorney Singas’ three-pronged strategy of enforcement, education, and treatment to fight the opioid crisis is working, and Nassau is committed to building on this commendable progress. That’s why at my direction, Nassau County has mobilized at full-scale to meet the long-term treatment and education challenges necessary to eradicate this epidemic in Nassau County. We cannot wait this out – for every additional life we can save, there is another family that does not have to bury a loved one.”
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said, “The Nassau County Police Department and it’s partnership with the District Attorney’s Office has been in a full-court press for the last two years regarding overdoses and the heroin epidemic. We have seen a steady decline in both fatal and non-fatal overdoses and the use of Narcan Administrations has also decreased, thus staying consistent with declining numbers. That being said, we continue to push hard under Operation Natalie which is named after Natalie Ciappa who passed away from a fatal overdose 11 years ago this past month. One of our initiatives under Operation Nathalie is the “Takedown Drugs Programs” in wrestling, lacrosse and Little League. We thank all of these organizations for their continued support, that we stand together and for sending the right message that we will continue to work together to take down drugs.”
In 2015, the NCDA provided $585,000 in criminal asset forfeiture funds to expand Maryhaven’s New Hope Crisis Center and close the treatment gap. This treatment gap leaves many patients on their own during the most painful and difficult throes of withdrawal, following their release from a hospital after an overdose, often leading to repeat use that can continue uninterrupted until death.
Often, users who overdose and are revived are stabilized and released from the emergency department because withdrawal is not considered medically “life-threatening.” The person in crisis is released back into the community while experiencing withdrawal, and though they may be amenable to treatment, without support, they frequently face challenges with the complexities of the healthcare system, insurance, waitlists at treatment facilities, and even transportation. Patients released to family members also struggle because many families are unprepared to handle a loved one painfully withdrawing from drugs. Without immediate care and a seamless transition to treatment during this vulnerable period, drug abusers frequently return to their dealers and continue a cycle that ends in a fatal overdose. Beyond providing people in crisis with the encouragement that they need to overcome their addiction, New Hope provides a physical place to go and continue medically assisted treatment.
This cycle can also lead to crimes often associated with the need for money to support opiate abuse, like robbery and burglary.
The funding provided by NCDA allowed New Hope, which assists chemically dependent people in crisis, to expand admissions to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and to hire a nurse practitioner and psychiatrist. New Hope employees can respond to hospital emergency rooms and immediately transport patients to New Hope to begin treatment. This stay, which lasts approximately seven to 10 days, allows the New Hope staff to determine the next phase of treatment for the patient and to assist families with insurance and Medicare/Medicaid paperwork for treatment to continue.
As of December 31, 2018, approximately 2,212 individuals have benefitted from treatment at New Hope because of the original funding.
In April 2019, the NCDA, Northwell Health, Nassau University Medical Center and New Hope announced a partnership to further close the addiction treatment gap.
Additionally, County Executive Curran and District Attorney Singas co-chair the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force, which includes stakeholders from across the medical, law enforcement, social service and education communities. The group meets monthly and works to reduce the demand for heroin in our communities by educating citizens.
The NCDA has pioneered a three-pronged approach to ending the opioid crisis: treatment, education and enforcement.
In June, a major Long Beach drug supplier was convicted of selling more than an ounce of heroin. Read the press release here.
In March, the NCDA indicted 14 people for their roles in a Nassau County-based narcotics ring. Read the press release here.
The NCDA sponsors the “Not My Child” series of anti-heroin presentations, which has been presented to tens of thousands of students in Nassau County schools.
For more information on New Hope and other Long Island treatment programs please go to heroinprevention.com.