Suffolk PO Gregory Initiates Plans For Mobile App To Combat Heroin Crisis

Written by Long Island News & PR  |  26. June 2017

Suffolk County, NY - June 26, 2017 - Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory has plans to enlist a powerful ally in the fight against the heroin epidemic: cell phones.
Presiding Officer Gregory has launched efforts for the county to develop a smartphone app that will provide individuals with quick and easy access to drug addiction services as well as information on how to recognize and prevent opioid overdoses. The app will also provide locations of nearby hospitals and treatment centers, links to organizations and support hotlines, and information on training to administer Narcan, an overdose reversal medication.
A resolution filed by Presiding Officer Gregory at the June 20 meeting of the legislature directs the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to issue a request for proposals to develop the app. The resolution will go before the Health Committee on July 20.
“This mobile app will literally put life-saving information directly into the hands of those who need it most,” said Presiding Officer Gregory. “There is a desperate need for instant access to addiction resources. Just a few weeks ago, 22 people over a two-day span overdosed on opioids in Suffolk. There are so many valuable resources and programs in our county, and we must do all we can to make it easier for those battling substance abuse to reach out for help.”
Presiding Officer Gregory believes the app will be a worthwhile endeavor given the recent launch of New York City’s mobile app, Stop OD NYC, which provides overdose prevention education and connects individuals with local programs. Suffolk officials are considering modeling Suffolk’s app after the city’s version and have been in touch with city health officials as they look to develop the proposal request.
“Substance abuse affects everyone in the community. An application that consolidates information that can be accessed from anywhere on a mobile device offers one more tool in our toolkit for dealing with this public health crisis,” said Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken.
“Today’s youth have come to rely heavily on their smartphones, so putting substance abuse information into a format that is easily accessible to them makes sense,” added AnnMarie Csorny, director of Suffolk County Community Mental Hygiene Services.
The opioid problem is of growing concern in Suffolk County, which in 2014 had the highest number of overdose deaths involving heroin and which led New York counties in overdose deaths where prescription opioids were a factor, according to a 2016 state comptroller report.
“A mobile app of this nature could be a vital resource at a time when we are losing our next generation to this epidemic,” said Donna DiBiase, founder and executive director of A2R Magazine, which explores issues related to addiction and recovery. “There isn’t a person that I meet who doesn’t know someone – a neighbor, a family member, a friend – who has been touched by this disease. Empowerment and education is so important, and we need to continue to find ways to get information to those who are struggling with addiction, whether it be through an app, a hotline or a magazine.”

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