‘This epidemic has been costly.’ Report details opioid epidemic in Nassau

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A new report just released Thursday detailed the impact of the opioid crisis in Nassau County.

The report details how the crisis happened, what's going on now and what needs to be addressed in the future.

According to the medical examiner's office, opioid deaths increased 138% between 2010 and 2016 but later saw a double-digit drop in fatalities from 2016 to 2018.

While experts are applauding a decrease in fatalities, they say the focus now should be on recognizing children and families considered to be at risk to prevent them from turning to drugs.

“This epidemic has been costly,” says Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “Costly in human life. It's destroyed families. It's destroyed communities. This is going to be costly for years and years to come but the emotional cost is immeasurable.”

Natalie Ciappa's father, Victor, was on hand for the news conference on the report. Ciappa, an 18-year-old honor student and singer, died of a heroin overdose 11 years ago in the garage of a Seaford home.

He said Thursday that the report is a good start and urged everyone to read all 55 pages of it.

“She had everything,” he said. “And she was going to do something important with her life. But heroin sidetracked that. It took her dreams. It took everything."

Health officials and law enforcement say the focus in combatting the opioid crisis should shift toward identifying at-risk children and families early on so they can get intervention services and resources to help prevent substance abuse.

"Look at what's going on in American high schools across the country. You're looking at a suicide rate. You're looking at a homicide rate. You're looking at a self-medication rate. It's safe to say that American students and Long Island students and adults quite frankly are not coping well," says Steve Chassman, of the Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence.

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