A projected 600 overdose fatalities related to opioids occurred on Long Island in 2017, according to published reports, and advocacy groups are preparing to have their voices heard at the state level on Feb. 13. More than 50 members of the Long Island recovery community, including individuals and family members who have lost a loved one to addiction along with key players in the fight against the opioid epidemic, will unite in Albany to meet with a host of elected officials.
The group will spend the day educating legislators about the effectiveness of prevention, treatment and recovery programs as well as the importance of banning the growing and fraudulent practice of patient brokers. Patient brokers serve as intermediaries to addiction treatment centers across the country and profit from recruiting individuals deceptively with false promises of receiving effective treatment.
The advocacy group is composed of individuals who have either lost a loved one to an overdose or are in recovery themselves along with the full support of Long Island-based nonprofit organizations Families In Support of Treatment (F.I.S.T.), Family & Children’s Association (FCA), Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) and Drug Free Long Island (DFLI).
Long Island resident, Teri Kroll, mother of Tim Kroll, who suffered a fatal overdose several years ago, said, “I have been an advocate for change in policy and laws for substance use disorder treatment since January 2010, four months after our son Timothy passed away after a three year struggle of being irresponsibly introduced to prescriptions opiates by an unscrupulous ‘Doctor’.”
Kroll continued, “As a parent who lost a child to this disease and knowing that my role as Timothy’s mother continues, I have travelled to Albany to ask for change and I know with certainty that these efforts have not gone unnoticed. Laws have been passed to help many families in New York get through the crisis this disease causes. Though sometimes not easy to speak about the tragic loss of my son, I know that his wish of making a difference is happening through so many of us that have made this decision to speak up and support these necessary changes.”
Ira Costell, advisory committee member of FIST, said, “This Monday marks the 11th anniversary of the passing of my nephew, David Costell, at the age of 22 from a heroin overdose. My family was devastated by the loss of this caring, compassionate young man. But the sad reality is this devastation has been repeated tens of thousands of times in this State as the crisis has only gotten worse since. I raise my voice to demand our elected officials here in Albany redouble their efforts to support and fund services for recovery to reaffirm life and eliminate the heartache of loss.”
Advocates attended a F.I.S.T. Advocacy Training at THRIVE Recovery Center which included a presentation by FCA President and CEO Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, informing advocates how to maximize the effectiveness of the group’s ability to increase their outreach on Feb. 13.
Reynolds said, “The ability to mobilize an energetic and resilient Long Island-based group of individuals to our state’s capital, all of whom have experienced this epidemic first hand, whether themselves or through a love one, is the most important tool Long Island has to speak to our elected officials and share our experience, knowledge and expertise to end this epidemic once and for all.”
Anthony Rizzuto, executive director and founder of F.I.S.T. said, “Having provided family services to thousands of those impacted by a loved one’s addiction over the last five years and seeing the devastation caused, it is clear we must do better. Family members that are impacted by a loved one’s addiction often feel that they don’t have a voice or that their voice isn’t being heard.”
Rizzuto continued, “At F.I.S.T. we are determined to make sure family member’s voices matter. Their voice has become a roar over the last 5 years and they plan to share the realities of addiction as well as what they want to see happen with our elected officials!
The tireless work and energy invested by the group’s organizers during the lead up to the advocacy day resulted in securing meetings with more than half of Long Island’s elected officials and scheduling a press conference in Albany’s Legislative Office Building.
The press conference will be held at the Legislative Office Building, Legislative Correspondents’ Association Press Room 130, 198 State St, Albany, NY 12210, from 2 to 3 p.m.
Families in Support of Treatment (F.I.S.T) is a nonprofit corporation created to help families who have loved ones that are struggling with the disease of addiction. For more information about F.I.S.T., visit www.familiesinsupportoftreatment.com.
Family & Children’s Association is a nonprofit agency that has worked to protect and strengthen vulnerable children, seniors, families and communities on Long Island for more than 130 years. For more information about FCA, visit www.familyandchildrens.org.
LICADD’s mission is to address the addictive climate of our times by providing initial attention and referral services to individuals, families, and children, through intervention, education and professional guidance to overcome the ravages of alcohol and other drug-related problems. For more information about LICADD, visit www.licadd.org.
Drug Free Long Island’s (DFLI) mission is to advance through public awareness, education, empowerment and advocacy the transformation of Long Island into drug free environments for the general safety, health and welfare of children and all the members of the community. For more information about DFLI, visit drugfreeli.org.