BY KATHY KAHN
Historic Stony Point is not immune to the opioid crisis, Police Chief Brian Moore told the Town Board at its regular meeting on November 14.
“Last year, we had four calls to revive someone with Narcan,” said Moore. “This year, we’ve had nine calls to date.”
The surge in opiate abuse in New York State and around the United States began in the late 1990s following advent of the new pain medication oxycontin and a shift in medical opinion regarding pain management. Oxycontin caused some patients to become addicts while the general increase in supply turned the pills into a popular recreational drug.
Within a decade of oxycontin’s arrival, heroin, the queen bee of opiates, came raging back into American drug culture. A study published by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health this year estimates that heroin use has increased 400 percent-from 0.33 to 1.6 percent of the population-since the beginning of the millenium.
Moore encouraged residents: “Go through your medicine cabinets and to bag any unused prescriptions and drop them off at the police station. We will take them to a disposal unit where they’ll be burned.” (Note- do not flush them down the toilet, doing so harms the environment)
Even when opiates are prescribed for legitimate reasons the drugs can end up in the wrong hands, he said. “People who take these medications need to be aware leaving it in their medicine cabinet can attract others to using them,” said Moore. “It can be a family friend or a relative. It’s best to keep them locked up in a safe place.”
Councilman Tom Basile presented Chief Moore with a Proclamation from Senator William Larkin Jr. (R-C) for the work Stony Point Police have done with youth in the town, helping to keep them out of trouble and away from drugs. “We are very lucky to have a great police force that goes out of its way to work with our young people and keep them engaged,” said Basile, who attended a Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in Orange County earlier in the day.
The Senate’s Joint Task Force, chaired by Sen. William Larkin Jr., co-chaired by George Amadore, Fred Ashkar and Sue Serino, was held at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, which was filled to the brim with healthcare representatives, parents of addicts and addicts themselves, who were seeking answers and sharing information with the Task Force.
This year, the Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction was instrumental in securing $214 million in the budget – a record-high level of funding that will be used to strengthen prevention, treatment, recovery and education services across the state, according to the NYS Senate website.
“This is an epidemic that is widespread and does not discriminate. Government, the healthcare community and the non-profit sector must work together to come up with a holistic approach to prevention, treatment and recovery,” Basile said. “It is also critical that this be a strategy that is developed from the bottom up, with the people who are working to deal with addiction in our communities driving it. Clearly there are barriers that must be overcome quickly, especially as they relate to medically-assisted treatment facilities. The passage of Laree’s Law to help with enforcement is also vital. Senator Larkin has been at the forefront of this issue and that will help our communities better handle a tragedy impacts too many of our families.”