The United Parent-Teacher Council is hosting a forum about opioid addiction, overdose and what parents and teens should know about it on Nov. 1, which organizers described as both a reactive and precautionary measure.
The forum, taking place at the Great Neck Main Library’s community room from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1, comes as an opioid creeps across the country and through Long Island.
New York experienced a 20.4 percent increase in opioid deaths between 2014 and 2015 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2,300 to 2,754. This follows a nationwide trend, where opioid related deaths rose from 28,647 to 33,091 those years, the agency says.
“It’s absolutely integral in this day and age for all the parents and teenagers to become educated on how widespread this epidemic is and how it can hit close to home,” said Michelle Ahdoot, president of the UPTC. “It’s not something that any of us are immune to, so we need to educate ourselves to really really ensure that it won’t happen to any of us.”
Jacqueline Harounian, a member of North Shore Action and volunteer with the Long Island Crisis Center, will be moderating the debate. She said that based on people she has spoken with, opioid problems in the area are growing.
“Though the numbers aren’t very high – thank God – they are increasing as opposed to ten years ago,” Harounian said.
The program aims to educate parents, students and the community at large about how to prevent abuse, recognize signs, and how to take action. The forum also seeks to be the first step in establishing a more long-term panel of parents to tackle substance abuse in the community, Ahdoot and Harounian said.
“We’re hoping that maybe stemming out of this panel discussion, we’ll be able to start something,” Ahdoot said.
Panelists include Cathy Samuels from CASA Manhasset, a group fighting substance abuse, Maria Elisa Cuadra, the CEO of the Great Neck-based COPAY Inc., which treats drug abuse, Detective Pamela Stark of the Nassau County Police Task Force on Opioids, Amanda Cioffi from the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and Zachary Goldfarb, an EMT from Vigilant Fire Company.
It will also feature a recent high school graduate currently recovering from opioid addiction. His or her name and school were not provided.