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From The Desk Of Senator Jack Martins: April 24, 2014

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

It’s hard to imagine that it’s Thanksgiving already. Is it me, or did we just celebrate? Halloween wasn’t even upon us and the stores were stocked with Thanksgiving and Christmas items. We say to ourselves, “each year, it comes earlier and earlier.” While some prepare to cook and figure out where to seat relatives to avoid arguments, others plan to dine out. To many of us, Thanksgiving means shopping on Black Friday. But for the few and far between who look forward to catching the latest film from the array released exclusively for the holiday weekend, the time has come to relish relaxation. Sit back and enjoy the weekend at the movies, while the deliciousness of turkey and stuffing is probably still digesting in your tummy.

The following movies opened on Nov. 26:

The Penguins of Madagascar (PG–92 mins)

The Penguins of Madagascar finally have their own movie. If you’re familiar with the previous Madagascar films, featuring the zoo animals and their adventures, then you already know the funny and lovable spy penguins. Packed with animated fun for the whole family, Skipper, Kowalksi, Rico and Private begin a journey as undercover agents to help stop the notorious villain, Dr. Octavious. New and returning voices include Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich, Tom McGrath, Christopher Knight, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and many more.

If you have a sweet tooth and want a taste of confectionary perfection, take a drive down Manetto Hill Road. Set far back in a shopping center you will find Sweet Karma Bakery. No matter where you park in the lot, your nose will be greeted by the scent of freshly baked cakes and cookies.

Owner and pastry chef Brian Fishman graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in 1991. He was a savory chef for eight years before he chose pastries over pâtés.


Calendar

Owl Prowl

Saturday, Nov. 29

Holiday Tea

Monday, Dec. 1

Art in the Afternoon

Wednesday, Dec. 3



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