By Elana Glowatz
A 24-hour substance abuse hotline went live on April 1, providing Suffolk County residents with a new resource to help with battling addiction.
The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence is operating the new hotline — 631-979-1700 — and will help callers get screenings, referrals and follow-ups, directing them to local resources that will help them or loved ones overcome addiction.
Officials announced the initiative at the end of February, calling it a partnership between the county, Stony Brook Medicine and the state’s health department, as well as private and public community partners in the substance abuse field. Those officials said having a single phone number for all those resources is key.
“This initiative will provide [the] opportunity for addicts to reach out during their time of need and access treatment and support options easily,” Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said in a previous statement. “Often, there is a critical and brief period of time when a person sees clarity and makes the decision to seek help. This hotline can be fertile ground for change and recovery as it can quickly link residents to crucial health care services.”
LICADD itself noted in a recent statement about the hotline that “the time to seek treatment is ‘now’” and that sometimes the “now” is late at night, early in the morning or on weekends or holidays. The agency also said that the period in which an addict is willing to get treatment could close without immediate help, due to “the pathology of denial, obsession and fear which often defines substance use disorders.”
Community leaders have ramped up efforts to fight opioid addiction in recent years while seeing an increase in heroin and prescription painkiller abuse and overdoses across Suffolk County. Those efforts have included more directed police enforcement and informational meetings. Police officers have also started carrying the medication Narcan, which can temporarily stop opioid overdoses and has been used hundreds of times in Suffolk.
Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who authored the law that put Narcan into officers’ hands, said about the new hotline, “Every second counts to a mother whose son or daughter was found and saved from overdosing. And every hour and every day that slips by trying to find quality, affordable, accessible treatment is critical.”
For 24/7 substance abuse help, call 631-979-1700.
To report drug activity to the police, call 631-852-NARC.
The county health department will provide oversight and analyze data to monitor the hotline’s effectiveness, and identify trends and emerging issues in the community.
At the same time the drug abuse hotline went live, the Suffolk County Police Department announced another phone number, this one a 24-hour tip line for residents to report drug activity in their neighborhoods.
“We are asking the public’s help to fight this scourge, and with the public’s help, we can make a real difference,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said in a statement.
Residents can call 631-852-NARC anonymously to report information about local drug dealers, and authorities will investigate the tips. Even anonymous callers can receive cash rewards for tips that lead to arrests.
“If you see something, say something and Suffolk County police will do something about it,” Sini said.