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No easy answer to drug addiction problems

January 2, 2012 3:16:10 PM PST
At a Long Island addiction hotline, the phone calls never stop. People addicted to opiates are begging for help.

Problem is there's almost no help for them. Shrinking government budgets are coming down hard on addiction treatment at a time of unprecedented demand.

"It shouldn't take more deaths to make these changes. How many is enough before we finally change the way we deal with prescription meds on Long Island and statewide?" Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds said.

Reynolds runs LICADD, the Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. He says the demand from addicts has skyrocketed an astonishing 400 percent at a time government is slashing funding for drug treatment.

Nassau and Suffolk Counties have each cut funding by as much as 10 percent. New York state has cut funding by as much as 15 percent.

Reynolds says it's especially troubling because the cuts came in the wake of the infamous Father's Day massacre at a drug store in Medford when addicts David Laffer and Melinda Brady hatched a plan to rob the store of pain pills. Laffer executed four people in the process.

"We've gone backwards since Father's Day. We didn't learn anything. That's when we promised never again. We're gonna make these changes. We didn't make them and it's happened again," he said, referring to this past weekend's deadly confrontation in Seaford.

With funding for treatment unlikely to return in a time of recession, the incoming brass of the Suffolk County Police Department says it's finally placing a priority on stopping drug crime.

"Addiction clearly is the root of the problem," Chief James Burke said.

On day one in his new job, Burke promised a widespread crackdown on addicts and the doctors who supply them. It's an attempt to prevent more tragedies.

"When someone who has an addiction comes up on the radar screen of law enforcement, it's time for us to do our jobs," Burke said.

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LI Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (LICADD) Hotline:

516-747-2606

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