Concerned about the growing epidemic of addiction to heroin and other opiates, more than 100 people in Port Washington attended an event to learn how to administer the overdose antidote Narcan.
The training session, sponsored by Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, was held on June 1 at Paul D. Schreiber High School.
During the event presenters shared personal family stories of loss and addiction, discussed the warning signs of opiate use, explained how abuse escalates from pills to heroin and reviewed other information before conducting the Narcan training.
“A friend of mine had to use Narcan to save one of her sons from dying of an overdose,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “Six years after trying the drug for kicks, he is still fighting to stay sober. We must, as parents and as communities, do everything possible to combat this terrible epidemic.”
Nassau County Fire Marshall John Priest, who lost a son to a heroin overdose, said that 390 people on Long Island died due to opioid overdoses in 2014.
He added that Narcan training is critical to saving the life of a person who is or appears to be overdosing. Narcan is administered nasally, so it is easy to use and has no adverse effect on a person who is not overdosing from an opiate.
Lt. Kevin McCarroll, administrator of the Port Washington Police Department’s Opiate Overdose Prevention Program, said heroin, as well as prescription opiates, has reached epidemic proportions in the state of New York.
“It affects people and communities of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds,” he said. “All members of the public are encouraged to seek out this type of training and continue to educate themselves to become force multipliers in the fight to save lives from this terrible addiction.”
“We have been proactive in our approach to substance abuse through education,” said Stephanie Joannon, the Port Washington Public School District athletic director and co-chair of the Safety and Substance Abuse Task Force. “Heroin use is often the end of a cycle of substance abuse. Programs such as this one are invaluable in addressing a problem that often begins at a young age. Parents and community need to become educated on warning signs to help stop this epidemic.”
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano launched the training program in September to teach citizens the signs of an opioid overdose and how to reverse its effects in response to the growing number of heroin overdoses and deaths on Long Island.
In addition to training personnel, officials said Nassau County has hosted more than 70 events and trained more than 4,000 members of the public to administer Narcan, a brand of the opioid overdose antidote naloxone hydrochloride, since becoming the first county in the state outside New York City to have a state-certified Overdose Responder Program in late 2012.
Naloxone works by attaching itself to the opioid receptors in the brain, protecting the person from the opioids that were ingested.
Visit nassaucountyny.gov/overdose to learn more about Narcan training sessions and overdose prevention.