Continuing his efforts to prevent prescription drug abuse and save lives, County Executive Edward P. Mangano today announced that Nassau is the first county in the state to have been granted certification from the New York State Department of Health to administer a Drug Overdose Prevention Program. The state certification enables the County to train its employees as well as the families of at-risk individuals in administering an overdose reversal agent, known as Narcan or naloxone, to anyone who has ingested large amounts of opioids and who is in a life-threatening situation. Opioids include prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and street drugs like heroin.
County Executive Mangano said, “Nassau County is a leader in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic that faces our nation. With drug abuse claiming the lives of many of our young residents, my administration has made it a priority to enhance education, awareness, and enforcement efforts. This new Drug Overdose Prevention Program will help combat the growing number of overdose deaths by putting in place the resources necessary to save lives and get drug abusers on the road to recovery.”
Narcan is a prescription medicine that reverses an overdose by blocking the effects of opioids (such as heroin) in the brain for 30 to 90 minutes. As part of the state certification, Nassau County will be provided with the overdose reversal agent at no cost to residents. Beginning this week, substance abuse organizations, as well as governmental officials and the families of at-risk residents, will be eligible for training in administering the reversal agent.
The Drug Overdose Prevention Program will be administered through the Nassau County Department of Humans Services’ Office of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities. In addition, Nassau Emergency Medical Services will become part of a state pilot program in which Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are trained in administering Narcan. In the past, only advanced ambulance technicians (AMTs) could administer the overdose reversal agent.
“We must do whatever we can to prevent these tragedies which are becoming more and more frequent,” said Deputy Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature Norma Gonsalves. “We have lost too many of our sons and daughters to drug overdoses that could have been prevented. Hopefully, this certification will be another resource to assist us with protecting our communities.”
New York City and several local organizations have also registered with the Health Department to implement this proven life-saving effort that has already saved nearly 550 lives statewide. Last year, 119 people in Nassau died from an overdose of prescription opioid painkillers. Another 30 individuals died from heroin, which is also classified as an opioid.
Since taking office, County Executive Mangano has: instituted education initiatives for doctors to properly prescribe painkillers; called for increased prosecution of unethical doctors and drug dealers; advocated for tougher state laws to curb substance abuse; and hosted several drug prevention seminars for teachers, parents, and children. County Executive Mangano established a drug prevention task force focused on developing additional recommendations to address the prescription drug epidemic. Mangano was an early advocate for a more stringent system for monitoring drug abusers who “doctor-shop’ for prescription drugs, and for the doctors who supply those drugs. ISTOP, state legislation to create an online registry, was signed into law by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in August 2012.