MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced today that her office is committing criminal asset forfeiture funding to create an adolescent crisis intervention program that will help close the treatment gap for adolescents addicted to heroin.
The NCDA has issued a request for proposals to help establish one or more residential crisis intervention facilities for addicted Nassau County adolescents who are in need of a safe place to begin the withdrawal process and to obtain long-term treatment.
Typically, heroin users who overdose and are revived are released from medical care because heroin and opioid withdrawal is not considered medically “life-threatening.” The person in crisis is released back into the community, usually to a family member, who is frequently unequipped to handle the challenges of a young person painfully withdrawing from drugs. As a result, too many users seek drugs to end the pain rather than getting help, continuing the deadly cycle of addiction. A crisis intervention center will start the treatment process for the substance abuser and his or her family, while also assisting the patient’s admission to long term treatment; a bureaucratic process that can take weeks.
“There is currently no crisis/withdrawal facility on Long Island for adolescent drug users, and as the national heroin epidemic continues to ravage Nassau families, it’s critical that we address this gap in treatment,” DA Singas said. “We know that when those in the grip of heroin addiction are released on their own, many seek out drugs immediately, so it’s crucial that we close this treatment gap by providing addicts seamless help from the ER, to treatment during withdrawal, and then to long-term recovery.”
This treatment gap leaves many patients on their own during the most violent, painful and difficult throes of withdrawal, often leading to repeat use that can continue uninterrupted until death. This cycle can also lead to the crimes often associated with heroin abuse, like robbery and burglary.
Steve Chassman, Executive Director of Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, said: “The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) commends Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and her team for establishing this innovative opportunity to engage adolescents (ages 13-17 years) with untreated substance use disorders (SUD). This new program is indicative of the seismic shift needed to address, engage and work to treat adolescent substance users before they become tragically immersed in the juvenile and/or criminal justice system. These criminal behaviors are often a direct result, or symptoms, of an untreated substance use disorders. District Attorney Singas has put forth a proactive opportunity to establish effective partnerships between Long Island not for profits and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office in an attempt to create common solutions to the common problem of the disease of addiction here on Long island. History has dictated that without adequate treatment for substance use disorders, the familiar outcomes have resulted in jails, institutions and death.”
Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds, President of Family and Children’s Association, said: “As Nassau County battles an historic opioid and heroin crisis, the services detailed in this RFP will fill a critical gap for young people struggling with addiction and their families. The icing on the cake, of course, is that these vital services will be supported with forfeiture funds – at least some of which probably came from drug dealers who have fueled the increased overdoses and arrests. I’m glad that we have a District Attorney in Nassau County who fully understands that we can’t arrest our way out of this problem and stands behind that sentiment with the dollars necessary to make drug treatment and addiction services more accessible to young people. It’s this kind of innovation and commitment that will help us turn the tide in 2017.”
Today’s announcement concerns one part of DA Singas’ three-pronged approach to battling the heroin crisis: expanded education in schools, effective treatment for addicted individuals, and aggressive enforcement against dealers. Her office has also authored a package of five statewide bills that crack down on heroin dealers
and has committed asset forfeiture funding to Maryhaven’s New Hope Crisis Center
allowing them to become one of the first facilities in New York State with 24/7 intake coverage, helping to eliminate the treatment gap for heroin addicts. DA Singas, who is co-chair of the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force and whose office is part of the DEA’s New York Drug Enforcement Task Force, is also continuing to sponsor the “Not My Child” series of anti-heroin presentations in local schools started by former DA Kathleen Rice and already given to tens of thousands of students in Nassau County.