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From the desk of Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton: June 14, 2012

Fighting For Lives

Nassau County’s police and District Attorney Kathleen Rice have recently shifted their anti-drug efforts to focus on prescription drug abuse. This fast-growing epidemic threatens the health… and lives of many of our county’s residents, especially our youth. It also breeds heinous crimes like the Medford shooting.

I’d like to recognize the Long Islanders who traveled to Albany this week to speak to our New York State lawmakers, calling for legislation aimed at stopping prescription drug abuse. I applaud our local citizens for taking this initiative.

The issue is close to my heart. At the county level, I have been working on solutions for Nassau. I recently took helpful insight on the topic from Glen Cove Police Department Lt. Tom Fitzpatrick and a resident whose family suffered the tragedy of losing someone to the abuse of these medications.

They, and other Long Islanders, have made a good point that it has been too easy for people suffering from addiction to access powerful painkillers. Many medical facilities have been issuing prescriptions to people without keeping a record that other facilities can see. What this has meant is, someone so inclined travelling from facility to facility, racking up a scary collection of controlled medication to either sell or abuse.  

I commend those local residents who have helped bring to light: 1) the fact that legislation has been in order to keep a better record of who is being given prescriptions; 2) along with a practical system for doing this that does not burden doctors’ offices.

Here in Nassau, I have been working on expanding a county narcotics law aimed at protecting our youth. I am seeking to include prescription drugs under the law, which calls for a young person’s school to be notified if they are caught with drugs. I have met with District Attorney Rice to discuss the idea.

I also hosted a representative from the attorney general at my Mineola office, and we discussed ways we can deal with the greater issue together.

In general, I continue to offer my full support to anyone exploring ways to fight this problem head on.