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Heroin task force brainstorms legislation, website

A task force on youthful heroin use in Nassau will recommend state legislation to monitor prescriptions of controlled substances, speak with school administrators about addressing student drug use and create a website for those seeking help with drug addiction.

Those are some of the ideas the public and private members of the Heroin Prevention Task Force backed at its monthly meeting Friday at the county legislative and executive building in Mineola.

"We want to be able to keep track of the prescriptions for controlled substances, which often end up in a family's medicine cabinet and then kids get their hands on them," said member Patricia Hincken, the director of alcohol and substance abuse services at the Long Beach Medical Center. "This has worked in other states, and we want it for New York."

Assistant District Attorney René Fiechter, task force chairman, said a good example of how much prescription drugs end up in medicine cabinets is "the 1,500 pounds of such drugs we got last month in a one-day drug reclamation program with the Town of Oyster Bay."

Fiechter said a similar program was tried in North Hempstead Town and the task force hopes to work with Hempstead Town next.

Schools are an obvious focus of the task force, which has scheduled an Aug. 24 morning conference with county school administrators at the Farmingdale campus of Molloy College.

"There needs to be better coordination for addressing the drug issue both within many school districts and among the districts," said member Jamie Bogenshutz, the executive director of the YES Community Counseling Center in Massapequa. "The conference will be a strategizing session on this issue for them."

Member Susanne Smoller of Massapequa, with the Nassau Region PTA, noted that "no one size fits all. The issue may have to be addressed differently by different schools."

Fiechter later said he expected the website to be up no later than the end of summer.

The group also discussed a proposed state Good Samaritan law that would protect those in possession of alcohol or small amounts of drugs if they called authorities about an overdose.

Nassau Det. Pamela Stark, a member, said police officers will "follow the law."

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