Anti-drug panel issues new recommendations

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A Nassau County anti-drug task force has recommended the expansion of the use of an antidote to heroin overdoses and new requirements that pharmacy customers provide identification when picking up controlled substances.

The year-old Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Prevention Committee, formed by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, released recommendations at a news conference Friday in Mineola. The panel includes officials from the health and mental health fields, law enforcement, and drug treatment agencies, and mothers of children who died from drug overdoses.

The panel said training to give Narcan, an antidote for heroin and other opiate overdoses, should be widened beyond EMTs and other medical professionals to include drug and alcohol treatment providers, school and law enforcement personnel and firefighters. Narcan can be administered nasally.

Other recommendations:

Require insurance companies to provide basic coverage for substance abuse treatment.

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Require photo ID from those picking up controlled substances at pharmacies.

Expand awareness campaigns aimed at parents, middle-schoolers, senior citizens and physicians.

Partner with Suffolk County to combat prescription drug abuse.

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Mangano said 149 people died in Nassau last year from abuse of prescription opiates or heroin.

One was Dennis Hickey, 28, of Bethpage, whose mother, Donna Hickey, sits on the task force.

She said her son "could never wrap his head around 9/11," after his father, a New York City firefighter, was killed in the terrorist attacks. Hickey began using prescription drugs "and went on to heroin," his mother said in an interview. He died Dec. 24.

Teri Kroll of Lindenhurst, another committee member, spoke of her son, Timothy, 23, who died of a drug-induced heart attack three years ago. "I know I'm not the first parent to lose a child to drugs, but I'd like to be among the last of them," Kroll said.

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