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Overdose

People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, someone practices spraying into a dummy’s nostrils. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The Suffolk County Police Department handed out dozens of overdose rescue kits in the Port Jefferson high school on Monday night, at the conclusion of a crowded drug abuse prevention forum geared toward educating parents.

“We have to double-down on prevention,” said Tim Sini, a deputy county commissioner for public safety who has recently been nominated for police commissioner.

People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, Jim Laffey assembles a syringe. Photo by Elana Glowatz
People at an anti-drug forum stay afterward to learn how to use the anti-overdose medication Narcan. Above, Jim Laffey assembles a syringe. Photo by Elana Glowatz

He and other officials from the police department, medical examiner’s office and community spoke at the forum to inform parents about the dangers of drug abuse, including how kids get introduced to and hooked on drugs in the first place. Much of the discussion focused on opioid drugs, which include heroin as well as prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet, and on the lifesaving Narcan, an anti-overdose medication that blocks opioid receptors in the brain and can stop an overdose of those types of drugs.

According to Dr. Scott Coyne, the SCPD’s chief surgeon and medical director, in the three years since Suffolk officers have been trained to administer Narcan — the well-known brand name for naloxone — they have used it successfully 435 times.

Attendees who stayed after the forum were able to register in the police department’s public Narcan program and receive a kit with two doses of the medication, which can be sprayed into an overdose victim’s nostrils.

Narcan training classes are coming up
Want to learn how to use Narcan, the medication that stops an opioid overdose in its tracks? Training courses are taking place across Suffolk County over the next couple of months, including in Port Jefferson and in neighboring Centereach.

Narcan, the brand name of naloxone, blocks receptors in the brain to stop overdoses of drugs like heroin, Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin or Demerol, among others. It can be administered through a nasal spray and will not cause harm if mistakenly given to someone who is not suffering an opioid overdose.

The local training sessions meet state health requirements, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, and will teach trainees to recognize opioid overdoses, to administer Narcan and to take other steps until emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene. All participants will receive a certificate of completion and an emergency kit that includes Narcan.

The first course will be held on Monday, Dec. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the county’s Office of Health Education in Hauppauge, at 725 Veterans Highway, Building C928. RSVP to 631-853-4017 or wanda.ortiz@suffolkcountyny.gov.

In Centereach, a course will take place on Friday, Jan. 15, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Middle Country library at 101 Eastwood Blvd. RSVP before Jan. 11 at alonsobarbara@middlecountrylibrary.org or at 631-585-9393 ext. 213.

Later that month, Hope House Ministries will host another Narcan training session in its facility at 1 High St. in Port Jefferson, in the Sister Aimee Room. That event, held in conjunction with the Port Jefferson ambulance company, will take place on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 10 a.m. Call 631-928-2377 for more information or register at https://pjvac.enrollware.com/enroll?id=952865.

Debra Bauer at a recent Sachem Public Library Local Author Fair with husband Stephen and daughters, from left, Jennifer and Lisa. Photo from Debra Bauer

By Rita J. Egan

While working on her first book, “Through a Family’s Eyes: A True Story,” Debra Lindner Bauer from Ronkonkoma wrote her way out of the darkest period in her life. For years, the former stay-at-home mom now grandmother, was overcome by grief after the tragic death in 2007 of her 27-year-old son, Stephen J. Bauer Jr.

In the book, the author presents a raw and honest look at what family members, especially parents, endure after the loss of a young person. Bauer is frank about her experiences and feelings after the motor vehicle accident that took her son’s life, and in addition to her own writings, she included contributions from family members and friends, which provide a larger picture of the depth of loss.

Bauer, who admits she cried nonstop for three years, said in a recent interview, “There isn’t a day that goes by that my husband and I, and all of us, don’t miss him.”

The writer said she and her family will never know exactly what happened on that icy night, but from what emergency workers could decipher, Steve’s car slid on the ice and hit a mailbox and then a tree. The young man, who was on his way to meet his father to help him plow, hit the side glass of his vehicle and bled out, outside his truck.

Debra Bauer with her pooches, from left, Cody, Mustang Sally and Brandy.  Photo from Bauer
Debra Bauer with her pooches, from left, Cody, Mustang Sally and Brandy. Photo from Bauer

After receiving a call from her son’s girlfriend at 10:30 p.m. on the night of Feb. 25, 2007, Bauer and her husband, Stephen, raced to the scene of the accident. Emergency personnel couldn’t allow them to go near their son at the site of the accident, so Bauer followed them to the hospital. When she arrived, the nurse told her that they had just cleaned Steve up, and she could talk to him. After a few minutes, the nurse informed her that the doctors were ready to work on him, but the health professional checked his pulse and found he had none.

“There our journey began,” Bauer said. The accident devastated the writer, her husband and their two daughters, Jennifer and Lisa. “You’re never the same again,” she said.

After the passing of her son, Bauer was overwhelmed by the amount of people who offered their condolences and support. One subject the writer touches on in her book is some of the things people say to someone who has lost a loved one, both appropriate and inappropriate.

“I don’t take it personally, because they don’t know what to say to you,” Bauer said.

The author admitted that a few people said insensitive things, such as that she should be happy because at least she had her son for 27 years. She suggested that, when people don’t know what to say, to just hug the person, even though she said it brightens her day when someone mentions Stephen by name and a memory of him. She explained that the first few years, people would be a bit uncomfortable when she would bring up his name.

The author also suggested that a great way to help a grieving family is by dropping off some home-cooked food or picking up groceries instead of flowers. She said families receive so many flowers after a loved one passes that sometimes they go to waste. After her son’s funeral, Bauer brought the flowers home and set them on her lawn because she couldn’t bear to just throw them out.

The author said that even though it’s still difficult, the first few years were the hardest. Bauer said she couldn’t get off the couch, turned to alcohol and even prescription pills. While she’s been clean for 4 years now, she admits to being addicted to Percocet for 3 years.

“I have come a very long way, and I’m lucky to be alive to tell the story too,” Bauer said.

Writing the book provided a way of managing her pain that was even better than exercising or social activities, according to the author. Earlier in the writing process, Bauer didn’t even use a computer, because she said she never had the patience to learn how to use one.

She started recording her memories of her son’s life, and her feelings about his passing, a year-and-a-half after losing him, by writing them down on paper. When she completed her writings, her sister-in-law Kathy typed them up and edited them. After she sent the manuscript to the publisher, it was in their hands for two years and Bauer had to work on 13 revisions.

Now that the book is released, the author is proud that she realized she had to do more than sit around on the couch and has been able to share her son’s story.

“Everybody says you’re so happy, you glow now. I accomplished something huge in my life,” she said.

Even her 16-year-old grandson, who recently read the book about his father, said after he finished, “You’ve come a long way, Grandma.”

Bauer continues to keep herself busy promoting her book and is currently designing sympathy cards for those who have lost a child. The writer said that she and others who have lost children have found that there aren’t many suitable cards for parents.

While Bauer admits that things will never be the same for her and her family, she now knows that things can improve. The writer is feeling better than she has in a long time, and she hopes that parents who share her sorrow will read “Through a Family’s Eyes” so they know that they are not alone. She also hopes that parents who haven’t experienced such a tragedy will read the book so they can understand what a family goes through and have more empathy.

“People can learn things. Maybe they can be even more appreciative of their kids,” she said.

Bauer’s advice to other grieving parents is, “Find something that makes you happy. I think writing is great therapy. They could always use new books out there — true stories. There might be people that just want to hear your story, especially if it’s true.”

“Through a Family’s Eyes: A True Story” is available on Amazon.com and at www.debralindnerbauer.com for $23.

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Smithtown Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Bradshaw. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Smithtown Central School District, in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police Department, its PTAs and Project Presence, will host an important community forum, “The Ugly Truth: Heroin and Prescription Drug Education and Awareness.”

The forum, which is open to all Smithtown community residents, begins at 7 p.m. at Smithtown High School West, 100 Central Road, Smithtown. Content to be discussed is most appropriate for children aged 15 years and older.

During the event, attendees will be provided with information on the dangers of prescription medication and heroin abuse, how to recognize the signs of drug abuse among teenagers and tools and actions parents can take to help their child.

The program will also feature a question and answer period and training on Narcan, a prescription medication that can reverse an overdose by blocking the effects of opioids. Additionally, SCPD’s Operation Medicine Cabinet will be on hand to safely discard expired or unwanted prescription medication.

“Our goal is to increase education and awareness and build protective factors and preventative skills for families with a series of follow-up workshops,” said Jennifer Bradshaw, Smithtown Central School District assistant superintendent for instruction.

Darryl St. George at a RAP Week press conference earlier this month. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Since returning home from serving overseas, a homegrown Northport High School teacher has devoted his free time to inspiring students, zeroing in on two specific issues.

Darryl St. George, a Centerport resident and United States Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, is the co-advisor of the Northport High School branch of Students Against Destructive Decisions and the advisor of Project Vets, a club that works to improve the lives of veterans once they return home.

“I love working with young people,” St. George said. “I find what I do in these clubs an extension of what I do in the classroom.”

St. George graduated from Northport High School in 2000 and earned his teaching degree from Marymount Manhattan College. He was in Manhattan when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred, and said the day instilled a passion in him to help his country.

“I had this sense that I really wanted to serve,” St. George said. Personal reasons held him back until 2009, when he enlisted in the United States Navy.

His first deployment to Afghanistan was in 2011. When he came home nine months later, he said he discovered that one of his former students from Northport High School had died of a heroin overdose, and his own brother Corey had started abusing opioid drugs.

A few months later, he lost his brother to an overdose from prescription medication, which “changed everything.”

St. George was honorably discharged from the navy after three years and returned to his job at Northport High School, where he became a co-advisor of SADD with Tammy Walsh, another Northport High School teacher.

“One of my colleagues asked me to run the club with her, and together, the club really expanded from three kids at a meeting to more than 50.”

St. George said he was able to get the club to take a more active role in Recovery, Awareness and Prevention Week.

“We felt that the drug epidemic was such a crisis that this club would be the perfect vehicle to help combat the issue,” St. George said. “Tammy and I are open and candid with the kids about our own history with this problem, and I think the kids are receptive to that kind of honesty.”

St. George said he finds working with SADD very fulfilling, and sees it as necessary. “Ultimately, my drive for getting involved is to do everything I can so that no family has to go through what my family did,” St. George said.

St. George and Walsh have been working on a SADD Summit, which they hope will help bring RAP Week-like programs to other schools on Long Island. He wants to change the culture in every school.

Aside from working with SADD, St. George is involved in another club in Northport High School called Project Vets.

He said this club has a two-pronged mission statement — to work with veterans and help them with the transition period once they come home.

“I am a vet, and I personally know many of my friends that have had difficulty transitioning back home,” St. George said. “But they are not looking for any handouts. This club explores how we can improve their transition period.”

Project Vets is only in its second year, and St. George said at the first meeting there was more than 60 students wanting to join.

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Father Francis Pizzarelli of the Hope House Ministries speaks at the Miller Place Teachers Association 5K walk to promote drug awareness. Photo by Caperna-Korsen Photography

After Miller Place lost two more students last summer to drug overdoses, members of the Miller Place Teachers Association said it was time to take their community back.

“Many [people] in our area have felt helpless as a result of the growing drug problem in our community,” Nancy Sanders, president of the Miller Place Teachers Association, said in an email.

In light of recent events, the teachers association sponsored a 5K walk fundraiser to promote drug awareness in the community. The walk began at noon on Sunday at the Miller Place High School track. According to Sanders, the association raised over $14,000. All proceeds went to Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson and a family who lost their son to a heroin overdose just before school started this year. The family wished to remain anonymous. Sanders added that Hope House has helped many students in the Miller Place school district.

Father Francis Pizzarelli from Hope House spoke at the event, alongside several former Miller Place students who are recovering addicts. Pizzarelli was impressed with the event and commended the teachers for their effort.

“Finally after more than 25 years of ranting and raving about the serious drug problem we have … finally someone’s listening,” Pizzarelli said.

He added that other school districts should use the teachers association effort as an example.

“Until we educate parents with signs and symptoms and until we really yell and scream, this problem is going to continue to senselessly take lives,” Pizzarelli added.

The idea for the fundraiser came about during a Miller Place Teachers Association meeting. The fundraiser’s theme #BeSmartDONTStart was supposed to encourage Miller Place students to make the right choices “and to know that they have a tremendous support system that they can count on to always be there for them,” Sanders said.

BJ’s, Stop&Shop, Utz, Party Hardy and That Meatball Place are some of many businesses that donated goods to sell at the fundraiser. Additional stores and restaurants also donated goods for the raffle baskets. The association also received more than 300 shirts from Port Jeff Sports to sell at the event.

“This has been a true school and community effort,” Sanders said. “We would not have been able to pull off an event of this magnitude without all the support we received.”

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By Father Francis Pizzarelli

Since my last column, I’m aware of more than a dozen heroin overdoses in our larger North Shore community. Ten are recovering and two others are not among us any longer. These casualties of this infectious drug are young and old, rich and poor, well-educated and not so well-educated, white, black and Hispanic.

The painful reality is that right here in our wonderful North Shore community, our children and grandchildren are socializing with young men and women who are using heroin. Some of you work with them; some others unknowingly have met them on the supermarket line. This drug is everywhere; many of our young adults have connections who drop the drug off at their homes. It is mind-boggling.

The 10 who are barely recovering need to be in a long-term rehabilitation settings — that is, long-term residential treatment programs that are longer than three months. The access to treatment should be yesterday, not tomorrow, or next week or next month; that might be too late.

Insurance companies should not have the right to sentence your loved ones to death. If treatment is recommended by a licensed professional, one’s insurance company should bend over backward to accommodate that referral and pay without argument that claim.

Last year three young adults died waiting to get into residential treatment because their insurance companies said they had to fail at outpatient treatment first before they would pay for long-term treatment! That approach is not only scandalous, it’s criminal. They did fail at outpatient treatment — they died; three great young adults with so much possibility and potential.

Unfortunately, we do not have enough detox beds and enough long-term treatment beds for the epidemic need before us. Everyone is talking about this crisis, but few are doing anything about it. Our elected officials are deaf and blind to this issue. Only one candidate running for office in our county even made reference to the heroin epidemic in her platform. We don’t need another bill that lacks force, or another photo opportunity that gets lost to the archives of social indifference.

What we need is action today. We need people to step up and speak out and to continue to speak out until enough politicians take notice and are really finally willing to do something about this serious health crisis.

How many more vibrant young lives have to be lost before real action is taken — action that truly makes a difference?

What do concerned citizens and caring parents do? I believe we need to come together and provide mutual support for this lethal health crisis. We need to educate one another about the signs and symptoms. We need to remove the stigma around acknowledging the problem and stop the shame and blame game. We need to just care about the growing number of our young people who are being victimized by this lethal epidemic. We need to create a cooperative spirit within our larger community.

We need to network the religious community, the educational community and the governmental community. They need to work together to create resources that are desperately needed for those who have been infected. We don’t have the time to pass the buck; too many lives are at stake.

Fr. Pizzarelli is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

John Martin demonstrates how to use intranasal Narcan in Northport. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Northport High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions will be dedicating more than a week to raising awareness of drug and alcohol abuse by hosting programs to cultivate prevention and support recovery beginning on Thursday.

Known as the Northport-East Northport Recovery, Awareness and Prevention Week, the programs kick off at the Northport American Legion Hall on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m., where families will gather to share their experiences with addiction. The Suffolk County Police Department will also provide Narcan training for the community.

The weekend will feature drug take-back programs at local libraries. The take-back campaign, manned by the village police department, will start at the Northport Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and continue on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 1 to 5 p.m.

The county police department’s 2nd Precinct will also man a post at the East Northport Public Library on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Residents are able to participate in an anonymous drug drop-off, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at each police precinct, according a press release by the high school’s SADD club.

The club has partnered with the Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force, the office of county Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), the village police and the county police’s 2nd Precinct to host these events.

Darryl St. George, a social studies teacher at Northport-East Northport school district, is a SADD club adviser. He became involved with the cause after losing his brother Corey to a drug overdose.

In an interview this week, St. George said he feels the week’s events, particularly the Narcan training and the drug take-back program, would make a great impact through helping train people in potentially saving lives and by taking drugs off the streets — drugs that put lives at risk.

“I think that this is very meaningful,” St. George said. “I think that this is one of those events that will have very real results.”

Ending on Thursday, Oct. 29, there will be a number of events at the schools in the district and this year, for the first time, programs will take place at elementary school level.

“Of course the message will be delivered in an age-appropriate way, but nevertheless the message will be the same — say ‘no’ to drugs,” he said.

The programs will culminate in a press conference outside the Northport Village Hall, where officials will report the results to the community.

The large numbers behind opioid-related deaths and Narcan saves justifies the need for these kinds of events, St. George said. According to a recent statement from the office of County Executive Steve Bellone (D), there were more than 250 opioid-related deaths in Suffolk County and 493 Narcan saves in 2014.

“This week, specifically, the Narcan training and the drug take-back program give me a renewed sense of hope that we are doing something that will have tangible results,” Tammy Walsh, a SADD adviser said in a statement. “The drugs we are taking off the streets could stop a kid from overdosing or possibly getting addicted. The Narcan training we are providing is empowering people to be in a position to save lives. We are still in this fight.”

For questions about these events, contact St. George at darryl.stgeorge@northport.k12.ny.us.

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Narcan, a drug that stops opioid overdoses. File photo by Jessica Suarez

Suffolk County is hosting a Narcan training class to teach residents how to administer the life-saving drug that stops opioid overdoses.

According to the county health department, the training class meets New York State requirements and will teach attendees how to recognize and overdose on opioids such as heroin and Vicodin. They will also learn how to administer Narcan through an overdose victim’s nose and what additional steps to take until emergency medical personnel arrive on the scene.

Participants who complete the training will receive a certificate and an emergency resuscitation kit that contains Narcan, also known as naloxone.

The class will be held on Monday, Sept. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Office of Health Education in the North County Complex, 725 Veterans Highway, Bldg. C928, Hauppauge.

For more information on the class, contact Wanda Ortiz at 631-853-4017 or wanda.ortiz@suffolkcountyny.gov.

Community members take to the court in Hoops for Hope tribute

Local friends and community members come out to play 3 on 3 basketball in support of, and to pay respects to, Jake Engel during the Hoops for Hope fundraiser. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Four years ago, Jake Engel of Miller Place lived in Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson. It’s to that same ministry that the Engel family is donating the proceeds from their first Jake Engel Hoops for Hope fundraiser on Tuesday, which they want to make an annual event.

Last Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, 22-year-old Engel died of a heroin overdose. Engel was born on July 18, 1993. Engel’s wake was on Friday at the O.B. Davis Funeral Home in Miller Place. The mass took place on Saturday at Saint Louis De Montfort church in Sound Beach.

But the Engel family wanted to do one more thing to remember their loved one. After the funeral, Engel’s younger brother, Patrick, wanted to find a way to remember his brother and raise money for a good cause.

Pat Engel dribbles the ball at the Jake Engel Hoops for Hope fundraiser. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Pat Engel dribbles the ball at the Jake Engel Hoops for Hope fundraiser. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“All the proceeds are going to Hope House … He lived there for about two years and it’s a great program,” Pat Engel said. “He made a lot of friends; [it was] probably the best years of his life.”

According to its website, Hope House Ministries aims to “provide compassionate, comprehensive and competent care for the poor, the marginal and the wounded among us.”

According to family friend Lisa Nordin, of Miller Place, various people in need seek shelter at Hope House. While the organization helps people in times of need, the community also wanted to band together in a time of need.

“After this tragedy, we just felt like, as a community, we have to get together and fight against drugs and drug dealers,” Nordin said.

About 15 small, self-appointed teams donated money to participate in this event, where they played half-court basketball at the basketball court at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai.

Brian Sztabnik was one of the many people who attended and participated in the Engel’s Hoops for Hope.

Sztabnik and several others said Engel “loved coming to the beach and he loved playing basketball.”

“They figured might as well put the two things together and have a benefit, and bring the community together, raise some money and celebrate his life,” he said.

Pat Engel said his older brother enjoyed the beach, adding that he was a clammer and spent 8 to 12 hours at the beach, daily.

Countless community members gathered to donate money and participate in the event. Many of them knew Jake Engel in high school. With their help, Hoops for Hope raised more than $5,000 for Hope House Ministries.

Pat Engel thought the event had a good turnout, especially considering it was planned in three days. He also thought this new, annual event was a good way to raise money and honor his brother.

“Jake, he had a wonderful sense of humor,” Engel said. “He could light up the room with his smile. He cared about everyone that cared about him. He loved his family, and his family loved him.”

Lee Zeldin, center, announces his support of two House bills to help addicts and prevent others from using drugs. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Rep. Lee Zeldin took to Kings Park on Sunday to join the fight against drug abuse, an issue that is plaguing communities on Long Island and across the nation.

Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced his backing of two bills in Congress — the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, H.R. 953, and the Stop Overdose Stat Act, H.R. 2850 — which seek to help those struggling with drug abuse and prevent future abuse. Zeldin is co-sponsoring both bills.

“It’s clear we must come together as a community and a nation to combat this growing issue,” Zeldin said.

According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the percentage of state high school students who reported use of heroin more than doubled between 2005 and 2011, from 1.8 percent to 4 percent.

“We can’t treat them and street them, which is what is currently happening in our emergency rooms,” said Linda Ventura, treasurer of Families in Support of Treatment, known as F.I.S.T., a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and educating families which are struggling with a loved one’s addiction. “There should be no more shame with someone struggling with this disease, no, stigma — that has to go.”

Ventura, who is also involved with the Suffolk County Prevention Resource Center, is more than just a member of activist groups. She lost her son, Thomas, in March 2012 to drugs.

Bill 953 would help people grappling with drug abuse obtain the services needed to put them on the road to recovery. It would provide up to $80 million in the form of grant funding to help treat and prevent addiction through community-based education and prevention programs, and treatment and recovery programs.

The grants would further help expand prescription drug monitoring programs and provide police forces and emergency medical responders with higher supplies of Narcan, a prescription drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

The legislation has 20 co-sponsors — both Democrats and Republicans — and was introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

“It’s a good bill on its merits alone, and it doesn’t matter what names or letters are attached to it,” Zeldin said.

Bill 2850 would provide an additional $25 million over a five-year period for Narcan production and distribution and provide more medical professionals and families with the lifesaving drug.

The act, introduced by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), would also establish a preventative research task force that would look into ways to prevent future overdose deaths, while taking a preventative approach against drug abuse.

Zeldin was joined by members of the community including Suffolk County Legislators Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) and Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset); Kim Revere, president of Kings Park in the kNOw, a task force promoting a drug-free community; and Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer of Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. The congressman wanted to show the only way to win the battle was to remain united.

Like Ventura, the fight was personal for some of those in attendance at Sunday’s press conference.

“I lost my son, Timothy, in August of 2009 after a 14-month struggle with prescription drugs, which eventually led to heroin,” said Teri Kroll, secretary for F.I.S.T.’s board of directors and a member of the resource center. “He passed away after eight and a half months of sobriety.”

Saji Francis, the doctor who prescribed Timothy the drug he eventually became addicted to, was arrested shortly after Timothy passed away. In 2010, Francis was convicted of illegally selling prescription pills and sentenced to six months in jail.

Kolodny, who also serves as the director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, explained how many people start abusing drugs after taking prescription medications.

“To control this epidemic we need to prevent new people from getting this disease, and treat those who are suffering,” he said. “We also need to get doctors and dentists to prescribe more cautiously. If not, these overdose levels with continue to rise.”