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Heroin deaths on the rise in Nassau

September 22, 2009 11:13:35 AM PDT
In what has become a growing problem on Long Island, a drug is killing more people than drunk driving. That drug is heroin, and deaths from overdoses have hit a record number in Nassau County. "This year alone, there have been more deaths from heroin overdoses in Nassau County than there have been for drunk driving and homicide combined," Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi said.

Suozzi highlighted what he sees as a growing epidemic. There have been 22 deaths from heroin overdoses in the county in the first six months of this year, an all-time high.

"It's cheap and it's addictive," Suozzi said. "It doesn't have to be shot up. It's so powerful, it can be snorted and smoked."

Addiction specialists add that no community is safe from heroin's reach.

"It's in the schools, it's in the streets," Seifield Services executive director Kieran Dwyer said. "It hits every neighborhood, Park Avenue to the park bench. It doesn't matter what you do, where you live, it's everywhere."

Seifield Services, in Mineola, treats substances abusers. Dwyer says 10 year ago, only 10 percent of clients were heroin users. Now, that number is 22 percent.

Many of them are teenagers because, heroin is cheaper and easier to get than alcohol and requires no ID.

The overdose death a year ago of 18-year-old Natalie Ciappa, of Massapequa, underscored the issue and increased public awareness. But advocates insists more needs to be done.

"I think education is very important, no matter what the substance may be," Dwyer said. "Because people are in denial that the kids are using these substances."

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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