New York State, Suffolk County and Brookhaven officials joined Thursday to combat what they said is Long Island’s biggest problem — opioid addiction.
“It’s very important that we make significant investments on all fronts to get Suffolk County and the country out of this epidemic,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Tim Sini said on the steps of Brookhaven Town Hall. “This is the issue of our time.”
The news conference and rally coincided with International Overdose Awareness Day, commemorated every Aug. 31.
Sini said more people die from substance abuse overdoses than from firearms and motor-vehicle crashes combined.
He said the police department has increased efforts, and formed task forces and partnerships to combat opioid abuse and distribution.
“I look out and see parents and mothers of those who have lost children or friends to this dreadful disease of addiction,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said. “I see their pain.”
“The cause of addiction has to be addressed,” Romaine said.
Opioids are drugs that include the illegal drug heroin as well as prescription pain killers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and others, plus synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
He and Sini said there needs to be a comprehensive approach with more awareness, solutions, treatment, rehabilitation, love and care.
Opioids caused 133 deaths in Brookhaven last year, according to Town Clerk Donna Lent, who spearheaded the conference.
Brookhaven has two licensed social workers to help residents ages 12 to 20 with addiction.
The town also announced an opioid awareness forum for Oct. 24 at Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.
“If you’ve been to a wake for someone who has been lost [to opioid abuse], you’ve been to too many,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).