Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn is partnering with the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) to raise public awareness of the increased danger of opioid related deaths during the holiday season. Mental health challenges are heightened during this time often leading to a spike in substance use. Community leaders have joined forces with LICADD to provide families with mental health resources to prevent or reduce the anticipated rise of holiday-related opioid overdoses.
Professionals and Family members will share first-hand accounts of the imminent dangers facing families living with substance use disorders. LICADD, Gabriel's Giving Tree (G.G.T.) and Families in Support of Treatment (F.I.S.T.) will present available resources for those in need of treatment referral and grief and loss support.
"The holiday season can bring added stress to those battling addiction," said Legislator Hahn, sponsor of several initiatives to combat overdose deaths within the County. "While this is often a joyous time of year, there are underlying pressures and triggers that contribute to a dramatic spike in overdoses every December and January. We are here today, to remind people they do not have to face the struggles of the holidays alone. Help is available if you or someone you love is facing addiction, and with it comes the faith this can truly be a season of peace, renewal and hope for all of our neighbors."
"I would like to plead with anyone who is using street drugs to not risk your life," said Carole Trottere, whose son, Alex, overdosed in 2018. "Fentanyl is insidious. It will kill you and death is permanent. There's no do-over or reboot. It's forever and so is the grief and heartbreak that is left behind. Please know you are loved and that there is help for you."
"We can't let people forget that the holidays are one of the toughest times of the year for those struggling with Substance Use Disorder (SUD)" says Steve Chassman, LICADD Executive Director. "We here at LICADD, F.I.S.T. and especially G.G.T. haven't forgotten and fortunately neither have the representatives we have here today. We don't want to bury any more of our children."
"This year we will be exceeding 107,000 fatal overdoses in this country. We need to give this crisis the attention and resources necessary. Families are being devastated, we must do better", says Anthony Rizzuto, Seafield Director of Provider Relations.
"The holiday season is a time to give thanks and remember. Every morning when I get up, I look out at our Garden of Remembrance on the grounds of Hope Academy in Mount Sinai, and I see the hundred and 25 crosses that honor the young men and women since the pandemic that have senselessly lost their lives to addiction. They have moms and dads that will gather this Christmas with empty places at their table. The heroin and fentanyl epidemic on Long Island is out of control, we need long term treatment beds now. Hope lives on and love remains as we continue the courageous fight for long term treatment", noted Fr. Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW.