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Opioid Task Force Hosts Forum on Addiction Prevention

Earlier this month, the Southampton Opioid Addiction Task Force hosted a forum which brought together over 200 medical professionals. Their goal: to discuss the addiction problem in Long Island and find solutions that work for our community.

The task force organizers asked the numerous doctors and mental health care physicians in attendance for their professional opinions about, “front line practices, what works, and what’s needed to stop this deadly epidemic.” The consensus found was that there is an extreme need for more drug treatment facilities in Long Island so those suffering from opioid abuse can receive help immediately and not be put on a waiting list and that health insurance should offer better coverage of addiction related treatments.

This problem is very complicated and has roots shooting to many sources. It was also suggested that doctors should be prescribing less opiate painkillers across the board. Even if physicians were to drastically cut the number of opioids they prescribe, the underlying issues would still exist of why people, especially young adults and teenagers, are using these drugs in the first place. Jay Schneiderman, the Southampton Town Supervisor and member of the task force, speaks on just this, stating, “There are other pieces to why kids are engaging in at risk behaviors. There are societal and mental health issues.”

Drug treatment in Long Island needs a facelift if it is going to keep up with the demands of our people who are trapped in the cycle of opiate abuse. The lack of facilities and beds open to addicts who want to get help is tremendous. Regardless of why we or our loved ones are using there needs to be easy access to treatment. Steve Chassman, the executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., stressed this point –  more drug treatment can help fight our growing opiate problem.

Because the issues that exist in this epidemic are so multi-faceted, Schneiderman went on to say that he, “doesn’t claim to have all the answers… There is a growing concern about the problem and willingness to try and change the current course.” That willingness is what brought together the Southampton Opioid Addiction Task Force and more than 200 medical professionals on a Thursday evening for an open forum. The task force is looking for solutions and open to finding them from people of all walks of life. “The idea is to pull educators, school administrators, police officers, social workers, mental health professionals, community leaders, elected officials – everybody – into the same room and try to generate a list of action items based on what’s working in other areas,” said the supervisor.

The current state of the opioid epidemic in our community is terrifying and with drug treatment facilities at capacity in Long Island, lack of health insurance coverage, and more young people using and dying than ever, it seems that we are not yet equipped to handle it, but we are getting there. The mission of the Southampton Opioid Addiction Task force is, “to develop a concise action plan to address the crisis of opioid addiction and examine best practices and responses to reduce the opioid epidemic.” The group meets monthly and will be presenting the town board an action plan come this June.

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