Northport / East Northport, NY - September 19, 2016 - As parents, teachers, and youth in the Northport/East Northport school district reel from an epidemic of prescription drug and alcohol addiction among teens, including the drug-related deaths of more than 8 recent graduates in just over nine years, the community exhaled with new hope this week as it won a federal grant that will propel a comprehensive, community-wide prevention effort.
The new funding – focused on the reduction and prevention of youth substance use – comes at a time when Northport/East Northport students are using alcohol at a rate 60% higher than the national average; when guidance counselors report students suddenly losing weight, failing classes, and in some cases dropping out of school—linked to use of heroin or pills (often given or sold by classmates for $5-$7); and when local parents recently dumped more than 200 pounds of prescription pills into secure receptacles at police stations and libraries to help prevent youth access to opiates and other drugs.
The community is part of a county (Suffolk) that leads NY State in heroin and prescription opioid deaths, with 207 recorded in 2014 alone.
“This funding from the Federal Government,” said Jeffrey Friedman, CEO of nonprofit CN Guidance & Counseling Services, a behavioral health safety-net organization, “infuses urgently needed financial resources to one of the strongest grassroots movements on Long Island—to save the lives of youth who are using drugs and alcohol, starting at very young ages. Even as heroin and prescription opioids are destroying L.I. families at unprecedented rates, this community-focused grant provides a new opportunity to break the cycle of abuse and ‘business as usual’ – and to spark community-level change.”
The beneficiary Northport/East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force, an organized group of concerned and active community members—which includes parents, youth, teachers, school administrators, medical professionals, religious leaders, the police chief, and local media among others—works via focused sub-committees, all led by volunteers. The group will benefit from $125,000 per year (to match its own equal contribution) for the next five years toward implementing a detailed prevention plan laid out in its grant proposal.
The federal grant will not only enable the hiring of a full-time Coalition leader, it will support a range of coordinated best practices and evidence-supported activities ranging from parent-education to social media initiatives, to pharmacist/youth collaboration, to stricter law enforcement practices. Research shows significant decrease in use of prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana among youth in communities that receive Drug-Free Community (DFC) support of the type granted to Northport/East Northport.
The grant is received with high enthusiasm by the Northport/East Northport community and school district:
“We are very pleased to have received this grant. The additional resources will allow us to sustain the critical work being done by the Drug and Alcohol Task Force on behalf of our youth in our communities. I’d like to acknowledge the members of the Task Force who dedicated the time and effort to make this grant a reality,” said Rob Banzer, Superintendent of Schools, and member of the grassroots Task Force/Coalition.
Both U.S. Senators from NY were supportive: “This critical federal funding will help facilitate a wide range of prevention programs to combat substance abuse here on Long Island,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “As the opioid epidemic continues to grow in New York and across the country, we can’t wait any longer to take action and curb this growing crisis.
Senator Charles Schumer commented: “The prescription drug abuse crisis on Long Island is symptomatic of the larger opioid epidemic that New York State and the entire country is facing, and we need to fight back now,” said Senator Schumer. “These grant recipients [referencing all LI communities winning awards] have been on the front lines of combatting the disturbing drug abuse uptick among our Long Island youth and this investment will provide them with the resources they need to continue their life-saving work.”
Toward the effort, nonprofit leader CN Guidance will provide both administrative oversight and clinical/subject matter expertise on substance use prevention and treatment. CN Guidance, a respected safety net in the community since 1972, serving families and individuals with both mental health and substance use disorders, maintains a staff of over 300 employees including certified substance abuse counselors, mental health clinicians, psychiatrists, registered nurses, and support professionals.
The Task Force/Coalition meets regularly 2nd Wednesday of every month. If you would like to get involved, to help propel the effort, please contact Anthony Ferrandino email.
Funding from the DFC Program—a project of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in partnership with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—is part of a larger national initiative to reduce youth substance use by promoting community-wide participation and evidence-based practices. Competition for this funding is extremely high due to a national epidemic.
About CN Guidance
CN Guidance & Counseling Services is one of the region's leading mental health, behavioral, and addiction-related service providers. Established in 1972, the mission of this nonprofit organization is to improve the quality of life for individuals and families on Long Island affected by mental health and/or substance use disorders. It succeeds by providing integration of clinical treatment, housing opportunities, social and support services, counseling, and guidance to individuals, families and the community. CN Guidance has been a leader in providing outreach, supports, and counseling to community members during peaceful and traumatic times alike.