COPAY offering array of services against heroin

COPAY offering array of services against heroin
Maria Elisa Cuadra-Fernández, the CEO of Great Neck-based COPAY Inc., spoke before a room crowded by parents, children, administrators, officials and other curious community members who asked questions about drug addiction and mental health late last year. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

In its 30 years of existence, COPAY Inc., or the Community Organization for Parents and Youth, Inc. based in Great Neck, has been on the front lines of both countering drug use and healing victims of an epidemic.

And, according to heroin service coordinator Michelle Kirkpatrick, the number of people using their heroin-related treatment and prevention programs has seen a steady uptick.

“We definitely have [seen an increase],” Kirkpatrick said in an interview on Thursday, adding that they see close to 60 visits per week and that individuals are using more of their respective services. “Nowadays, almost everybody is impacted by somebody’s use.”

Kirckpatrick said COPAY offers a wide variety of outpatient services, prevention programs and clinical programs not only for recovering addicts, but people hurt by it despite not using drugs. It can take the form of individual counseling with therapists, group sessions, support groups and skill building.

There are also bereavement groups for family members and significant others who lost someone to an overdose, Kirkpatrick said, as well as an after-school prevention program with around 25 students involved in tutoring and homework help.

“I think that it would really be beneficial for anybody who has substance use history or anybody who has been affected by it too,” Kirkpatrick said of utilizing the programs.

Local officials and residents have been wrestling with a heroin and opioid epidemic that claimed more than 40,000 lives nationwide in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making up around two-thirds of all drug overdoses.

Other programs that COPAY offers include alcohol and drug abuse treatment, teen drug screenings and parent counseling, psychiatric assessments and ongoing care, medication and monitoring, drug tests, prescription drug abuse treatment, NARCAN training, parenting skills training and DWI and court-mandated services.

COPAY is also fully bilingual, able to serve speakers of English and Spanish.

Maria Elisa Cuadra-Fernández, the CEO of COPAY, noted in a 2017 interview that their programs tend to treat around 150 families per year – or thousands over the organization’s history.

Combined with its community presentations, given interviews and affiliation with five universities, Cuadra-Fernández said they could be educating hundreds of thousands of people.

“We’re on TV, we’re on radio… In an average year, we’re really educating what could be up to half a million people,” Cuadra-Fernández said.

As of 2017, COPAY has 12 staff members and 30 volunteers, who Cuadra said often have helpful backgrounds like as teachers or counselors.

COPAY accepts payment through Medicaid, state financed insurance, private insurance, and military insurance. Payment assistance is also offered by way of a sliding fee scale.

For more information about COPAY or its services, call (516) 466-2509.

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