The opioid epidemic in Suffolk County remains unresolved among local families, policymakers, resource providers, drug prevention advocates and victims. Fortunately, for once, we see some reasons for hope.
Opioids remain a major killer, particularly of youth, in Suffolk. Hundreds of our fellow residents die each year from opioid overdoses, with a growing number of these deaths brought on by synthetic opioids — notably fentanyl.
While our community and society continue to grapple with the devastation of the drug epidemic, we are encouraged by several developments taking place here at home.
Last week, Suffolk County opened a second round of opioid settlement payments from a projected $200 million lawsuit won by the county government against opioid manufacturers, retailers, distributors and other entities that had compounded the problems and contributed to deaths. [See story, “Suffolk County opens application portal for second round of opioid settlement,” Aug. 31, TBR News Media].
We encourage all qualifying, interested parties and organizations to write an application for this money. While the $200 million cannot undo the damage inflicted upon our people, it can hopefully bring our citizens and nonprofits together around the common cause of ending the opioid epidemic here in Suffolk.
It is also necessary to consider recovery options for addicts. Prevention is critical, but recovery resources are an equally vital side of this conversation. With growing local concerns over a potential lack of space in treatment centers, those who ask for help should receive the necessary care.
Caught in the daily and weekly news cycles, we can sometimes forget that people among us are dying from opioids far too regularly. We are encouraged by the various demonstrations this week — namely at Brookhaven Town Hall and Northport Village Hall — for Opioid Awareness Month.
Still, we acknowledge that so much work must still be done. When September ends, this issue won’t go away.
Therefore, we must use this month as an opportunity to learn about the drug phenomenon here in Suffolk, educate ourselves and others, and apply those lessons during the remaining months of the year.
Public awareness combined with public funds can be a powerful deterrent to help combat the spread of addiction in our community. The actions we take today will impact generations to come.
To apply for opioid grant funding through Suffolk County, please visit www.suffolkcountyny.gov and search under “Opioid Grant Application.”