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Opioid task force makes recommendations to Southampton board

A community facility for those in recovery could take years, but more sober housing similar to a state-funded center in Hauppauge would be “a home run,” said a committee member.

Members of the Southampton Opioid Addiction Task Force

Members of the Southampton Opioid Addiction Task Force present their findings, which call for more outpatient services, to the Southampton Town Board. Photo Credit: Newsday / Vera Chinese

Creating additional outpatient services and a community center for those in recovery were among the recommendations presented by Thursday by members of the Southampton Opioid Addiction Task Force to the Southampton Town Board.

The task force was formed in October 2017 shortly after its founder and chairman, former News 12 anchor Drew Scott, lost his granddaughter Hallie Rae Ulrich to opioid overdose.

There has been one overdose death in Southampton this year, a much lower number than the 12 people who died in the first half of 2017. Task force members cited the new number as promising.

“I think the awareness has been raised in the community and that has helped,” Scott said. “We’re starting to see some progress.”

Some of the recommendations, such as passing out an informational pamphlet at schools, doctors’ offices and other locations, have already been implemented, officials said. Others, like building a community facility for those in recovery, may take years to complete.

One suggestion was seeking state funding to build a facility on the East End where people could congregate in a sober setting, similar to the state-funded THRIVE center in Hauppauge. That facility offers support groups, stress-relieving activities such as yoga and other services.

“If we could get something like that, that’s a home run,” said recovery committee member Mark Epley, chair of the Seafield Center, a rehab facility with inpatient services in Westhampton Beach.

He noted that well-run sober homes combined with outpatient services can provide a helpful next step for those leaving a detox facility, although some operators have overcrowded the facilities, which can be a single-family home in a residential neighborhood.

Another suggestion was seeking consent from those surviving an overdose to pass their contact information on to the task force’s treatment subcommittee.

“We find that moment in time [as officers respond to an overdose], we are getting more cooperation from the user . . . and family members,” said Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki.

The town board will review the suggestions and determine whether the task force should continue.

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