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Mar 8, 2019 3:24 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays High School Hosts South Fork's First Opioid Presentation: 'The Ugly Truth'

Hampton Bays Superintendent Lars Clemensen welcomes everyone to the presentation of
Mar 12, 2019 3:31 PM

The Hampton Bays High School hosted the South Fork’s first presentation of “The Ugly Truth,” a heroin and prescription drug education and awareness program, on Thursday, March 7.The Suffolk County Police Department implemented the program in 2015 as part of what officials described as a multi-faceted approach to address the county’s opioid epidemic. The two step program intends to teach parents how to recognize the warning signs of drug abuse and overdose, as well as provide families with local resources and tips to intervene and prevent it.

At the presentation, attendees over the age of 18 were also instructed on how to administer Narcan, a drug that when administered promptly, can block the effects of an opioid overdose.

Jason Byron, an emergency medical services officer with the Suffolk County Police Department’s Emergency Medical Training Unit, explained that after 15 minutes of an overdose, a person’s chances of survival are less than 0.001 percent. “Time matters,” he said.

He added that opioids remain in a person’s system for up to 24 hours, but Narcan’s reversal effects last for only approximately 30 to 90 minutes. He stressed that an overdose can occur after Narcan is administered, even if the individual hasn’t taken more drugs.

Overdose warning signs include unresponsiveness, small pupils, shallow breathing, or skin appearing blueish in color, Mr. Byron said.

He stressed that in those circumstances, someone should call 911, even after Narcan has been administered. The state’s Good Samaritan Law, established in September 2011, prevents any person involved from being arrested for drug-related offenses.

The goal of the presentation,which showed graphic photos and videos of teenagers using drugs, is ultimately to bring the number of opioid-related deaths in Suffolk County to zero, according to Suffolk County Police Officer Nancy Ward.

Although the county, as well as the East End, has seen a decrease in the number of opioid deaths from 2017 to 2018, Officer Ward stressed, “By no way shape or form are we out of the woods.”

In Southampton, the number of opioid deaths dropped from 19 deaths in 2017 to just six in 2018. Suffolk County Chief Medical Examiner Michael Caplan said Suffolk County saw 408 fatal overdoses in 2017 and 261 in 2018.

“If we lose one person, that’s someone’s son or daughter,” Officer Ward said. “I ask you to be cautiously optimistic.”

Mr. Caplan addressed parents at Thursday’s meeting, noting that as a medical examiner, he sees three major trends when dealing with overdose-related deaths. Those include younger age victims, polypharmacy—meaning more than one drug in a person’s system—and parental denial.

Mr. Byron said polypharmacy is often caused by drug dealers lacing drugs, such as heroin and cocaine with fentanyl, which is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

“Fentanyl is the number one killer,” Officer Ward added.

Mr. Caplan attributed the young age trend to the early introduction of alcohol and marijuana, which he referred to as “gateway drugs.”

“That is absolutely where it starts,” Officer Ward added. “It’s a slippery slope.”

Mr. Caplan explained that a person’s brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. Therefore, introducing “gateway drugs” into the body’s system can distort their psychological reward system. “Pills become the reward rather than love, good grades, video games, or sports,” he said.

Parents Rosemarie Reich and Ellen Greaves of Hampton Bays were shocked by the information presented on Thursday.

Ms. Greaves, whose daughter is a senior at the high school, said she was happy to learn of the state’s Good Samaritan Law, noting that fear of arrest can often lead to someone not getting the help they need.

Ms. Reich, whose daughter is a sophomore, was amazed at how drugs can be mixed with other, more lethal, substances. “It really is a crisis,” she said.

To help keep their children safe, Suffolk County Police Sergeant Kathleen Kenneally recommended that parents become more active in their children's social media accounts.

She also stressed that it’s important for parents to prevent their house from becoming what she called a “safe haven” for underage drinking and other illicit activities.

“You’re allowing your child to choose which laws they’re going to obey and which ones they’re not going to obey,” Sgt. Kenneally said. “It’s a very quick spiral.”

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I wonder where all this fentanyl is coming from? Oh, that's right, it comes from factories in China built and operated by Chinese businesses that are part of the Communist Party of China and sent to us through the mail or mixed in with the heroin smuggled in from Mexico. Too bad no one can do anything about it.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Mar 12, 19 10:36 AM
While its great that opoid-related deaths have dropped in Southampton Town, the key undisclosed statistit is how many times has NARCAN been administered that resulted in a life being saved. NARCAN is the miracle drug that prevents an overdose from becoming deadly if administered quickly enough. If that number was accurately tracked and the number of times it was administered was being reduced, we would know we are making headway in battling heroin/fentanyl.
By roverton (64), Westhampton on Mar 12, 19 3:29 PM
How many people start out with prescription opioids?
By Mr. Z (11814), North Sea on Mar 12, 19 6:02 PM
it looks like a potentially higher % of abusers had prescriptions prior to abuse - you can do some research as well.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Mar 13, 19 10:12 AM
How many Hampton Bays High School students are over 18 and therefore can perform this procedure? And if they're over 18 why are they still in High School?
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Mar 13, 19 9:37 AM
Some seniors are 18, is that unusual?
By Fred s (3313), Southampton on Mar 13, 19 10:01 AM