Carle Place residents talked about drug and alcohol use in the community last week, during a Civic Association meeting held on Nov. 19. Attendees were able to hear about problems in the county and nation, and prevention methods from a panel, which included Bryn Catapano from the Nassau County Department of Human Services, Loretta Hartley-Bangs, Director of the Mineola Community Treatment Center and Pamela Stark from the Nassau County Police Department.
Catapano noted that after pot and alcohol, prescription drugs—including sedatives and anti-anxiety medication—were the most commonly abused by teens over 14 years old.
“Typically teenagers are only able to access what they have available to them. They’ll use what they find in the medicine cabinets and that could include stimulants that will cause them to get high,” said Catapano. “We don’t often think of these things as abuseable, but we need to be careful with how we keep these things and put them away so they can be kept out of the hands of curious teenagers.”
Hartley-Bangs said that prescription drugs can often lead to experimentation or even addiction to other drugs.
“It’s doesn’t start with opiates. We’re seeing kids can go into the medicine cabinet and start taking Oxycotin, and they like it so they start moving to heroin, which is cheaper [than prescription pills],” she said.
She pointed out that the demographics of drug users have changed, and that it’s younger and not always the kids you would expect.
“It’s not just the kids on everyone’s radar. It’s kid who have done well too,” she said. “We have to look at every kid as one who has the potential to pick up drugs and talk to them early, otherwise they’ll get their information someplace else.”
Stark said that the NCPD has “never had this many overdoses—fatal or nonfatal.” She shared that the police department has a three-pronged approach to fighting drug use which includes education, Impact—a film geared toward middle school students about the devastation drug addiction can cause to relationships, and enforcement.
“Every police officer is trained and equipped with NARCAN [a prescription drug which reverses the side effects of heroin],” said Stark. “We’ve been using it a lot.”
Stark also urged parents to take an active part in their children’s lives and discussed the Social Host Law, which potentially charges homeowners, or anyone present over 18, for any underage drinking that occurs in the home.
Carle Place High School principal Thomas DePaola noted that while there are very few instances of alcohol or drug problems in school buildings, “we have drinking in homes and parks.”