Despite an investment of millions of dollars from the Cuomo administration to combat opioid addiction and other types of substance abuse, Long Island continues to battle epidemic-level abuse and fatality. Opioid abuse continues to affect more and more residents while newer synthetic drugs pose entirely new threats. The scarcity of treatment beds also remains an impediment to progress as those seeking help are finding it hard to access adequate care. According to the medical examiners’ offices in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, 493 Long Island residents died from opioid overdoses. The growing recreational use of fentanyl is one of the factors driving the uptick.
While the picture remains precarious for Long Island, it should be noted that incremental progress is, in fact, being made. Earlier this month, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office announced a critical raid on a heroin and cocaine pipeline that flowed into the area. Law enforcement arrested 16 in connection with the drug ring; but acknowledge, along with civilians who are familiar with the area’s pervasive drug culture, that there will be no shortage of dealers ready to step up and fill the vacuum the raid created. This is, in fact, the 13th major drug arrest in the area since 2011.
To the governor’s credit, his administration has been trying hard to cover all the bases regarding drug abuse, including prevention and treatment. His latest round of funding offers $200 million to be allocated toward many elements of the problem, including $9 million for detox, $21 million for outpatient services, $9 million for sober living facilities and much more. Long Island may be the clearest example of how a community can neither pull itself out of drug addiction through funding and legislation alone. It takes an investment by members of the community itself to make these initiatives stick and have a lasting impact.