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Apr 12, 2018 10:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Former Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender Discusses Drug Addiction During Opioid Task Force Forum

Former Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender speaks during Wednesday's opioid task force forum. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Apr 17, 2018 1:07 PM

It was a “medically induced opioid addiction.”

That’s how former Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender described the circumstances that got him addicted—and ended with him resigning from his post and serving 10 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty in 2016 to felony charges of illegally distributing the highly addictive painkiller oxycodone in a drug distribution ring.

Mr. Bender shared his story on Wednesday, April 11, standing at a microphone in the Southampton High School auditorium during the public comment portion of the second Southampton Town Opioid Addiction Task Force forum.

The Northampton resident explained that a doctor over-prescribed him painkillers several years earlier when he injured his back, and that he was soon caught in the steely grip of opioid addiction.

He explained that his insurance mandated that his doctor prescribe him about a dozen weeks of a narcotic drug before getting a magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to decide if he was to have surgery. He said he was already on the painkillers for a year before the surgery was approved.

“How did I get to the opioid addiction? I don’t know if this is coining a phrase, but I am going to say it: medically induced opioid addiction,” Mr. Bender said at the forum.

In court, before his sentencing, Mr. Bender admitted that he was addicted to the painkillers and began selling the pills to pay his medical bills, all while continuing to also serve in public office.

Mr. Bender—who said last week that he hasn’t used drugs in two and a half years—ultimately spent 10 months in federal prison, four months in a halfway house, and two months in home detention for his involvement in the drug ring.

Mr. Bender talked about his past, noting that drugs were readily available in prison and around the corner from the Brooklyn-based halfway house he attended. He told task force members that they need to get to the root of the addiction problem.

“What is it that causes this addiction or problem?” Mr. Bender asked. “I know what it is for me: I didn’t feel good about myself … Where do I fit in? Why do I have all this pressure? What is going on in my head?

“We need to talk to people and find out what the hell is going on so they can figure out how to get to that next place,” he added.

In Southampton Town alone, there were 19 deaths from opioid addiction last year, according to Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who co-chairs the forums with former News 12 anchor Drew Scott, whose granddaughter died last year of an opioid overdose. The town is a smaller screenshot of a larger regional crisis: Suffolk County reported approximately 400 opioid deaths in 2017.

This year is off to a better start: Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki shared during last week’s forum that there has been only one fatality related to opioid overdose reported so far in 2018.

The chief gave a presentation during the recent forum, explaining that his department is putting a focus on arresting drug sellers. Police have also started offering to help addicts find treatment—as long as the person consents—when they are called to administer the drug naloxone hydrochloride, commonly known as Narcan, which blocks opioid receptors in the brain and helps an individual who has overdosed to breathe normally again.

Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini agreed that targeting sellers and finding help for people who are overdosing is an appropriate strategy. He said there were more than 800 Narcan saves in Suffolk County last year.

“We’re not going to tolerate drug dealing in our community,” Mr. Sini said at the forum.

Since the task force’s formation last fall, the group has grown to 44 members, including educators, doctors, police, and community members who have direct personal experience with addiction. By the spring, the four subcommittees—education, treatment, recovery and law enforcement—are expected to present recommendations that the local, state and federal governments can do to help defeat the opioid crisis.

To come up with solutions, the subcommittees have been meeting individually to discuss the crisis and come up with a solution. A medical forum and two youth forums have also been held in recent months to help get to the root of the problem.

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This an should not have a platform
By Win sky (20), Southampton on Apr 12, 18 11:15 AM
Say what?
By But I'm a blank! (1278), Hampton Bays on Apr 12, 18 1:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
He's a con man.
Apr 13, 18 2:17 PM appended by pw herman
Don't ever let Bender suckle from the government teet again .
By pw herman (1099), southampton on Apr 12, 18 2:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Has Brad ever discussed his MANY years of steroid use in pursuit of his bodybuilding endeavors, all of which preceded his opioid use? Further, being addicted to opioids would imply he desires to USE them, not resell them. I think money was his motivation, and any alleged addition an excuse.
By Funbeer (245), Southampton on Apr 12, 18 2:33 PM
Doctors and insurance companies did not encourage him to sell millions of dollars of illegally-prescribed painkillers on the sly.
By Funbeer (245), Southampton on Apr 12, 18 2:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By even flow (757), East Hampton on Apr 12, 18 6:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thank you. For fixing it. So easy to sling mud when your hiding behind a computer screen. I worked very hard many years to bring about change for our community and I did that drug free for most of it. All medication that left my hands went to one man who I was under the impression used it but in fact sold it.
I take full responsibility for my actions and did my time. Now I look to rebuild my life and be a contributing member of our community. As for going to the gym and working out I've been ...more
By Brad (28), Northampton on Apr 12, 18 6:42 PM
I fully supported your candidacy, Mr. Bender -- you were not only my neighbor and interested in community activism years before throwing your hat into the ring, but give promise of giving the Northwest area of Southampton Town some real representation, something we hadn't had even when Tony Gil was on the Town Board.

You've always had my support, but then you betrayed us! And now you are trying to rehabilitate yourself with those you betrayed? For what purpose? I doubt that you'll ever ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1796), Northampton on Apr 12, 18 7:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
You can be a contributing member of your community without grabbing a microphone. This isn't about you. And I'm not sure anyone believes that whole ''I was getting it for a friend'' bit anymore.
By even flow (757), East Hampton on Apr 12, 18 8:15 PM
The above may be a healthy start.
By Mr. Z (10417), North Sea on Apr 12, 18 8:36 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Draggerman (815), Southampton on Apr 12, 18 10:00 PM
You did a lot of damage Brad, and here's a piece of advice; getting defensive is not the way to go from now on. I hope you do live clean and contribute to society. As you will soon learn the real penance was not the time you spent in a cell but the upcoming years you'll spend trying to integrate back into the community you were removed from. You'll have caustic comments and snide remarks thrown at you from friends and strangers alike, and you'll just have to stand tall and take it, move on, and ...more
By Funbeer (245), Southampton on Apr 13, 18 5:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
You know, Draggerman, your screen name may be appropriate in a different way from what you originally meant by it. You recently tried to drag snarky comments into an obituary -- rightly taken down -- and now you try to drag politics into a discussion on addiction: "... but then I'm a conservative. I take responsibility for my actions. And you, sir, are a sniveling liberal who blames the world."

Really? Over the years, I've known a number of addicts who've kicked their habit, and ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1861), Quiogue on Apr 13, 18 11:35 AM
2 members liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Sturgis (449), Southampton on Apr 16, 18 9:44 AM
So now you want to parlay your criminal activity into a new career. Shame on you.
By Babyboo (244), Hampton Bays on Apr 12, 18 6:59 PM
Brad go away and take Hillary with you. Go into the woods and dont come back. Nobody wants to hear what you have to say.
By P. Revere (81), hampton Bays on Apr 12, 18 9:48 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Apr 13, 18 8:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
WAAA WAAA !!! It's not my fault! It's the doctors fault! Isn't part of rehab taking responsibility for your actions? Sorry brad but an addiction is totally different from selling narcotics. Don't want to hear it
By CaptainSig (666), Dutch Harbor on Apr 13, 18 8:41 AM
2 members liked this comment
Bender must reimburse the taxpayers of SHT for the special election to fill his seat on the Town board . He should get a real job and stop crying it was not his fault.
By P. Revere (81), hampton Bays on Apr 13, 18 6:02 PM
Draggerman ...As usual, not only are your comments self serving, but they are also factually incorrect. The current Opioid and drug addiction problems we, as a country, are fighting needs the help of every person to defeat. If the life experience of Brad Bender, a person I do not respect, can be used to save even one person - so be it.
Draggerman , as a Conservative, you should take responsibility for the damage your party has inflicted on our country. Every day, when you genuflect in front ...more
By SpeedRacer (104), Southampton on Apr 13, 18 6:10 PM
Wow. You assume I listen to Rush. I don’t. I have a business to run.

Self serving. Hmmm. I was set up for “medically induced opioid addiction”, yet I understood the risks and dealt with it. Rather than dealing. And then whining about what lead him to this horrible place.

Poor poor Brad. Boo Hoo
By Draggerman (815), Southampton on Apr 13, 18 10:04 PM
Or perhaps you lack the genetic component required for an addictive personality.

Yay!! Perhaps you won the genetic lottery...
By Mr. Z (10417), North Sea on Apr 13, 18 10:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
Addiction is a health condition. Criticizing people for it makes as much sense and ripping into someone because they have skin cancer.
By SlimeAlive (956), Southampton on Apr 13, 18 9:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Only the strong survive. The weak die young. Natural selection. Makes the herd stronger. Drug addiction is a choice, not a disease or health condition (laughable). Be strong and take care of your family. Be a man, not a weak pathetic junkie. Take pride in yourself. Work hard and raise your children to be strong, law abiding, productive Americans. Protect your family and home with firearms. Be strong and responsible. Live a long and heathy life and collect social security. Never stop working ...more
By P. Revere (81), hampton Bays on Apr 13, 18 11:26 PM
3 members liked this comment
Drug addiction is NOT a choice....there’s an underlying cause....its either a genetic predisposition to addiction or from Depression. Do u really believe people wake up one day an decide to be become an addict an ruin lives? Be strong an the fight the stigma attached to all of this. We have an opioid crisis goiing on right now. Adults act like this an speak of addiction in this way and it’s no wonder these teens don’t feel comfortable speaking up an saying they have a problem , ...more
By toes in the water (673), southampton on Apr 14, 18 6:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think you are ashamed that you got busted.
By Win sky (20), Southampton on Apr 14, 18 10:01 AM
Hey Brad, it took guts to stand up, accept accountability for your actions and apologize to the community. You went a step further and described your personal weak spots that fell to addiction.
Then a site that allows comments to be posted by pseudonyms (fake names) tells your story. You are a good guy. You prove your toughness to yourself. Please don’t take the sniping seriously.
By Bruce Doscher (9), Hampton Bays on Apr 14, 18 10:32 AM
2 members liked this comment
Bruce: I remain anonymous on this site in order to protect my wife, children and grandchildren, not to protect myself. After 4 years in the military and 30 years in law enforcement in NYC and Miami, I fear no one, much less a junkie and drug dealer. Bender is not a "good guy". He is a bad person. He should stop bloviating and pay back the taxpayers for the cost of his lies when running for Southampton Town councilman. He is a disgrace in so many ways.
By P. Revere (81), hampton Bays on Apr 14, 18 11:22 AM
Abu Gharib, Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner - take your pick your pick. And if your wife is holding you back you better pray you don't break free cause you will be destroyed.
By circaWHB (8), Westhampton Beach on Apr 27, 18 12:25 AM
Brad is a total disgrace but the real disgrace is that the other "co conspirators" and drug dealers remain un-named to this day. There were over 20 people involved with this drug ring and where are they now?
By G (324), Southampton on Apr 14, 18 1:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
VH1?
By Mr. Z (10417), North Sea on Apr 15, 18 1:27 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By DisgustedHamptons (40), Hampton Bays on Apr 14, 18 4:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
27east commenters are a special breed. Poor reflection on our community.
By thepresssucks (21), watermill on Apr 14, 18 7:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
I blame the press for publishing the non story
By thepresssucks (21), watermill on Apr 14, 18 7:23 PM
There were about 70k opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. last year. There are about 320 million people in the U.S. That means .0002 percent of the population died from opioid overdoses. While tragic for the loved ones of the victims and sad that people destroy their lives with these drugs, it is hardly a national "crisis" or "epidemic."

Wake up.
By HB90 (150), southampton on Apr 14, 18 9:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
An Epidemic is the occurrence of more cases of a disease than expected in a given area or among a specific group of people over a particular period of time. I don’t understand how u can decide it’s not a national epidemic based on those numbers . Plz keep in my mind we have lost a lot of good people in our community to this disease.


70k is way too many. Wake up!




By toes in the water (673), southampton on Apr 14, 18 10:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
Brad Bender served his time. That was the price set by a court of law.
He got clean and by all accounts he still is clean. Many people cannot say that. He succeeded where others still struggle in a kife and death battle.
And yet anonymous people invent a political angle and FOXNEWS the guy. Shame on all of you.
By Bruce Doscher (9), Hampton Bays on Apr 15, 18 6:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
You’re right, Bruce. Shame on them indeed. And yet, neither you nor I nor Brad should be surprised at this. If Brad chooses to exercise his free speech rights, these commenters have the same rights and can respond in their own way, however cockeyed. I called Draggerman on the political thing above and am glad I did — as I’m glad you have also — but we can’t expect Brad to speak out on this subject without drawing a lot of flak.

The poster “thepresssucks” ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1861), Quiogue on Apr 15, 18 10:22 AM
Because the looneys are still here whether you're not and adding your voice helps balance them out a little.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3903), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 15, 18 11:06 AM
Actually having people speak of their experiences is informantive and educating, i.e. sharing their knowledge. Free speech doesn't mean uninformed people have a right to launch vindictive ad hominem attacks just because of his political affiliation on paper. It is petty, juvenile but oh so telling of the character of the attacker. Lacking.
By circaWHB (8), Westhampton Beach on Apr 27, 18 12:31 AM
I still think this Town is better off with Julie Lofstad.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Apr 15, 18 1:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
This guy has been selling and using steroids for 25 years. He went to jail for selling drugs not using them. I hope he learned his lesson he has good intentions but has an addictive personality.
No one's perfect I hope he helps others.
By chief1 (2519), southampton on Apr 15, 18 2:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Bender should shut up, get a job, and pay back all the money and expenses for the special election to fill his seat on the Southampton Town Board. Does he have a job or does he just bloviate and cry " Not my fault" ? Bender, take responsibility and get a job. I hear there is an opening at Burger King in Riverhead.
By P. Revere (81), hampton Bays on Apr 15, 18 3:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Shun him, Snub him, Shame him. He ain't all better now by a long long shot.
By pw herman (1099), southampton on Apr 15, 18 4:25 PM
Mr Bender you did your time now may I suggest you join a narcotics anonymous group and work on your recovery.you used drugs and sold drugs in your community we know your story,let us know in ten years how you are doing and I wish you well.your sobriety is not enhanced or strengthen by public grandstanding.
By watchdog1 (479), Southampton on Apr 15, 18 6:29 PM
While I have empathy for people with addictions, those who cross the line into selling this crap to others do not deserve any respect. In this case, I would suggest working quietly and humbly to help those with addiction. Public commentary right now is a disingenuous attempt go receive public sympathy.
By roverton (45), Westhampton on Apr 15, 18 7:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Can you specify what you mean by "this cr*p"?
Apr 15, 18 8:32 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
OH you mean drugs. I thought you meant what he was "selling" by speaking at the forum which was, by all accounts, a positive talk.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3903), HAMPTON BAYS on Apr 15, 18 8:32 PM
Dealers are the scum of the earth, period, end of story.
By bigfresh (3684), north sea on Apr 15, 18 8:53 PM
Prediction : some low life elected Town official will attempt to appoint the drug dealer Bender to a paid Town position.
By pw herman (1099), southampton on Apr 16, 18 9:25 AM
PW good call Jay will make him the drug czar of Southampton.
By chief1 (2519), southampton on Apr 18, 18 8:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
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