“Heroin is here in the Rivertowns,” explained Officer Stephen Foltin of the Greenburgh Drug & Alcohol Task Force, at a recent meeting about the opioid epidemic. The program, “What You Need to Know About the Problem of Opioid Medications and Heroin,” featured Officer Foltin and Ross Fishman, Ph.D, program director at Innovative Health Systems in White Plains, and was presented by the Ardsley SAYF Coalition.
Dr. Fishman explained the path that leads to heroin use. Pain medication is the bridge to heroin, and our society believes that when a doctor prescribes a medication it won’t be bad for you. Painkillers, such as Oxycontin, Percodan, and Percocet, are often prescribed after surgery, and are similar to heroin, according to Fishman. Often, prescriptions are written for a larger quantity of pills than are necessary, and the remaining medication sits in an unlocked cabinet. He continued to explain that users first feel euphoria from the pain medication, and then, as the opioids create changes in the brain they lead to addiction. Instead of wanting the drug to feel high, the addict needs the drug just to feel normal. Cutting back on use of the drug leads to difficult symptoms of withdrawal.
Foltin informed the audience that prescription medications can be expensive, and can often lead to heroin use, because heroin costs less. Both speakers described how not only the user is caught in the web of addiction, but the family often becomes involved for the long haul as they try to help their affected loved one. That’s why it’s so important to prevent drug experimentation.
The Ardsley Police Department has a prescription medication drop box where you can discard your medications anonymously, 24 hours a day, and they will be brought to the DEA for proper disposal. Once a teenager starts with pills, his or her life begins to change and center around the drugs, and then the family’s life centers around that. Foltin compared leaving pill bottles in an accessible cabinet to leaving a loaded gun out in the open. The drugs are just as deadly. Families need to realize the enormity of an addiction problem, and treat it as something as significant as a cancer diagnosis.
If you or someone in your family is suffering with addiction, the following resources may be able to provide help:
- Innovative Health Systems (Addiction Treatment) 914-683-8050
- Daytop (Substance Abuse Treatment) 914-949-6640
- Gambling, Alcohol & Drug Addiction Help Line 1-877-846-7369/1-877-8HOPENY
- Lexington Center for Recovery & Addiction 914-666-6740
- NY Presbyterian Hosp. (Mental Health & Addiction Treatment) 914-682-9100
- Phelps Hospital (Mental Health & Addiction Treatment) 914-366-3000 (main # of hospital)
- Phelps Hospital (Addiction Treatment, Tarrytown) 914-631-3133
- Sancia Health Care (Addiction Treatment, White Plains) 914-421-0400
- John’s Riverside Hospital (Addiction Treatment) 914-683-5311/main# 964-8000
The summary above is based on excerpts from, “Drug Experts Highlight Opioid Liabilities” in The Rivertowns Enterprise, November 20, 2015. The original article had a few inaccuracies and a correction was printed the following week:
In the Nov. 20 issue, a front-page story misreported that an unidentified Dobbs Ferry High School student recently died of a heroin overdose. No such death occurred. The story misquoted a member of the Greenburgh Drug and Alcohol Task Force who participated in a presentation about opioid medications and heroin that was held at Ardsley High School on Nov. 12.