When I was first inaugurated in January, I laid out my legislative vision to combat our heroin and opioid crisis.
Today I am proud to announce that two of my bills passed through the Health Committee were unanimously passed by the full legislature last month.
These bills are:
1. A 24-Hour Substance Abuse Hotline
This bill, which establishes a 24-hour hotline dedicated specifically to substance abuse, will make an immediate impact for residents who suffer from addiction. As it stands now, Suffolk County’s 24-hour hotline currently fields calls from our neighbors here in Nassau County.
The ability to have a trained substance abuse professional on the other end of the line to make on-demand treatment referrals is an effective way we fight back against addiction, and Suffolk County’s hotline, where nearly 1,000 people called last year, and approximately 58 percent of callers connected were confirmed in services, can and will work right here in Nassau.
Moreover, this hotline bill mandates a texting feature for young people who may be hesitant to make phone calls and enjoys the support of our police commissioner, our county executive and our commissioner of health.
Lastly, this bill is personal for me, as it was named “Timothy’s Law,” honoring the late son of my hero, Teri Kroll. Teri’s son, Timothy, lost his courageous battle with heroin in 2009, after which his doctor was sentenced for illegal sale of prescription drugs. Teri turned her grief into advocacy, becoming one of the first civilians trained in NARCAN on Long Island, and has been a driving force for legislative change in Albany.
2. A Smartphone Application For Substance Abuse Assistance Information & Resources
The second bill, which establishes an app for smartphones for young people, will also serve as a crucial tool in our fight against addiction.
Statistics show that people are formulating addictive habits at younger and younger ages, and that social media platforms like Facebook are no longer being used by the next generation. We have to reach young people where they are—and we know for sure that they are on their Smart phones.
This bill mandates a zip-code searchable database for nearest treatment centers, will contain a comprehensive list of resources, will have a calendar of NARCAN trainings, and will connect to both the police in case of an emergency, as well as our 24-hour hotline.
Thanks to Police Commissioner Ryder, both of these bills will be paid for with police asset forfeiture money and therefore will not utilize taxpayer dollars.
We know that recovery is real and we know that 23 million Americans are currently demonstrating that recovery does not hinder our citizens from living prosperous and healthy lives.
But in order to enter recovery, you first must get the help you need.
Lastly, I want to thank my Republican colleague and friend, Legislator Laura Schaefer, who has demonstrated her tireless commitment to helping those suffering from addiction, and was essential in bringing these two bills to fruition.
Should you ever need anything, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at JLafazan@NassauCountyNY.gov or 516-571-6218.