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Drug Abuse Forum In White Plains Aims To Arm Families With Resources

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says one person dies every 19 minutes from prescription drug abuse.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says one person dies every 19 minutes from prescription drug abuse. Photo Credit: Flickr user AKZOphoto

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Everyday actions by ordinary people can prevent substance abuse, and Thursday, June 12 they can find free resources and information to help them do just that at a forum at White Plains High School.

Every 19 minutes someone dies from prescription drug abuse, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Making the problem worse, prescription pills have become the “liaison” to heroin use, Croton Community Coalition Coordinator Laurie Dean said at a forum on the topic in April.

Families In Support Of Treatment (FIST), in collaboration with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence/Westchester (NCADD/Westchester) will host the 6 p.m. event at 550 North St. in White Plains.

More than 30 organizations and agencies will give parents an overview of the current epidemic, treatment options, signs and symptoms and strategies for drug prevention.

“Be an agent of change, pass this on to others,” Anthony Rizzuto, FIST chairperson said in a statement. “The ideals of FIST are unity and strength. Each finger has limited strength on its own, but when the fingers unite they form a fist, which symbolizes strength and unity. It also symbolizes the willingness to FIGHT for what we believe.”

There have been a few heroin overdoses in Westchester County this year, and the number nationally has quadrupled since 1999, according to Frank Reale, president of Peers Influence Peers Partnership, Inc.

NCADD/Westchester Executive Director Joan Bonsignore said that "The Council joined FIST because of the crisis in Westchester and surrounding areas.  Treatment must be available at the time of need in order to save lives."

The forum will also discuss barriers to treatment, with testimonials about being denied care by insurance companies.

“F.I.S.T. will promote the right of people suffering from substance use disorders to receive the appropriate level of care. This benefits the patients, their families and society as well,” said Dr. Michael Delman, a member of the forum’s steering committee and senior vice president of academic affairs for Southside Hospital North Shore LIJ Health System.

For more information on the heroin epidemic click here to watch a video from White Plains Police Benevolent Association President Robert Riley.

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