Suffolk County legislators, law enforcement officers, academics, treatment providers and school leaders plan to form a permanent advisory committee to address abuse of heroin and other opiates.
The 24-member Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel would meet quarterly and provide regular reports to county legislative committees and departments, bill sponsor Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said at a news conference Tuesday.
The Legislature formed a temporary advisory panel in 2010. Some of the recommendations have been adopted, but others haven’t.
“Things haven’t gotten better. There are still gaps,” said Jeffrey Reynolds, president and CEO of the Family and Children’s Association, which runs several treatment centers on Long Island.
Almost 500 people died from opioid overdoses on Long Island in 2016, the most ever, according to medical examiner’s offices.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini noted the increasing number of lives being saved using naloxone, which blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication. “This issue is all hands on deck,” he said.
The unpaid committee members would include legislative appointees and representatives from Stony Brook University Hospital; the Suffolk County Department of Health Services; county police; the Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jails; the Suffolk County Superintendents Association and drug treatment groups.
The bill to create the panel was introduced Tuesday and is scheduled to be voted on in September.