Anti-heroin task force meets in Mineola

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MINEOLA -

A state Senate joint task force met with local police and medical professionals Wednesday in Mineola to discuss ways to deal with the heroin and opioid epidemic.

Panel members say they agreed that education is key, and teaching children about the physical and emotional consequences of heroin and opioid addiction should begin as early as kindergarten.

"The people who are suffering from this get younger and younger every single year," says Robert Evans, a recovering addict.

Addiction experts also called for statewide guidelines on how to deal with overdose victims. State Sen. George Amedore says the task force will work with the state Department of Health to help hospitals to that end. He also raised the possibility of passing new laws.

According to the medical examiner's offices in Suffolk and Nassau counties, nearly 500 people died from opioid overdoses on Long Island last year.

"More times than not, people are being discharged (from emergency rooms) without any medical protocols, without any support network, and they are falling back into overdoses time and time again," says Steve Chassman, of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

State lawmakers have included more than $200 million in the budget for efforts to prevent and fight addiction. 

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