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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins: May 1, 2014

The Heroin Highway

I ask any parent reading this column to read it all the way through.

Don’t put it down and think it doesn’t pertain to you, because it does. And if it makes you uncomfortable, that’s great. If we’re lucky, a little discomfort now will spare you a lot of heartache in the future.

We Long Islanders have an immense problem on our hands which, if it hasn’t already, will make its way onto your personal radar soon. The problem is heroin and all indicators point to Long Island being the regional epicenter of a growing epidemic. So much so that experts have unofficially dubbed the Long Island Expressway the “Heroin Highway.”

While heroin used to be considered primarily an urban problem of street addicts, it has now crossed over into all kinds of communities, especially here.  

Several factors contribute to this trend. There’s been a dramatic decrease of prescription opioids on the black market. The bad news is that the scientific principle that “nature abhors a vacuum” is holding true. In this case, it’s being filled by heroin, one of the world’s most dangerously addictive drugs. When you add the fact that this stuff is readily available and cheaper than a pack of cigarettes, it spells disaster.

How bad is it?

• Heroin killed 121 people in Long Island in 2012 and at least 120 last year — the two highest totals ever recorded. (By comparison, there were 23 DWI deaths in Nassau County last year.)

• In Nassau County alone there were more than 821 non-fatal heroin and opiate overdoses in 2013.

• Worse still: Nassau police recorded 500 heroin arrests in 2013, more than double the 228 arrests in 2011

• Long Island addiction experts are counseling users as young as 12 years old.

As shocking as those numbers are, statistics tend to roll right out of our minds after we read them. As human beings it’s usually personal stories that alarm us. As a member of the Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, I’ve heard the painful testimony of young addicts and heartbroken parents alike. It absolutely scares the hell out of me and it should scare you too. As I write this column I have an official police breakdown of these fatalities in front of me. There’s not one neighborhood in Nassau County – not one – that has emerged unscathed.  Neighbors everywhere are working through the harsh reality of addiction, overdoses, and so many are burying their dead.

Nobody knows why this is happening to our kids.  Some young addicts say they experimented with heroin because there was simply not enough for them to do. But I can’t help but wonder what emotional void our kids are trying to fill. These are good kids – straight A students, athletes, cheerleaders – from good, hardworking families and yet, here we are. It could happen to any of us.

We’re working on ways to combat this scourge. We fought back on prescription drugs and we’ll find a way to fight heroin addiction too.

But I beg of you, not as your Senator but as a fellow parent, please, please, pay careful attention to your kids and the company they keep.  No lawmaker, police officer, or counselor loves them more or knows them better than you do. And for your own sake, have the “drug talk” and keep on having it. Ask them outright about heroin usage among their peers. It’s uncomfortable, but “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” A few moments of awkwardness now just might save you from a heartache that never ends.

If you or a loved one needs help, or even if you suspect a problem, don’t wait. It will not go away on its own. Make the call to the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence at (516) 747-2606 or the Long Island Crisis Center’s 24/7 hotline at (516) 679-1111.

News

Last week, County Executive Ed Mangano declared amnesty for all speed camera tickets issued this summer.

Drivers across Nassau County were up in arms due to the recent implementation of the school zone cameras, which had issued numerous violations since they were installed just weeks ago. The source of residents anger with the county’s speed cameras stems from lack of  warning and the cameras issuing speed violations even when school wasn’t in session.

The 7th annual Parish of the Holy Family Festival went off without a hitch and lit up the night sky on Fordham Avenue in Hicksville last week. Thousands of community members came and joined in the festivities.  

This year’s theme was the 1964-1965 World’s Fair that took place in Queens. Volunteer coordinator and 28-year member of the congregation Mary White said “We are having this festival to raise money and to offset the expenditures of the school and the church. Last year we had a record breaking 10,000 people attend and while all the numbers are not in yet, we are doing very well this time around too. The turnout has been great because the weather has been so cooperative.”


Sports

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its fourth tournament on Thursday Aug. 7. We had 33 golfers and a record 8 who scored under 40. Low overall score was won by newcomer Ed Hyne with an impressive 33, his second low net in a row. Charlie Acerra scored a solid 35, and won low overall net with a 26; his best score in 4 years.

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100 % handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season. The league meets every Thursday at 7:30 a.m., but the formal tournament dates are only the first and third Thursday of the month through late October. We will have a final luncheon with prizes on our last meeting.

The fields of Kevin Kolm Memorial Park were filled with nearly 200 soccer players on Saturday for the annual ‘Soccer For A Cause’ event. The event was put together by the Mastermind Unit in sponsor of the Michael Magro Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting pediatric patients with cancer and their families.

“The Mastermind Unit is a non-profit organization that was founded by a group of guys who grew up playing soccer together in Hicksville,” said co-founder Bryan Alcantara. “This is our seventh annual  ‘Soccer For A Cause’ event at Memorial Park.”


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



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