Overdose Awareness Press Conference Scheduled for Feb. 14, 2013

Families of Overdose Victims Gather on Valentine’s Day to Remember Loved Ones and Announce New Efforts to Reduce Drug Overdose Fatalities on Long Island

LICADD joins the NYS Dept. of Health and others in launching a new public education campaign to publicize “911 Good Samaritan” law encouraging people to call 911 during an overdose

Who:  Families who have lost loved ones to accidental overdose – including Victor Ciappa who with his wife, Doreen, lost their daughter Natalie in 2008 to an overdose after several youths left the scene without calling for help – along with treatment experts, community experts and elected officials.

What: A news conference detailing Long Island’s overdose crisis, efforts currently underway to reduce fatalities and a new bilingual public education campaign led by NYS Dept. of Health, NYS OASAS, the NYS Nurses Association, Drug Policy Alliance and LICADD designed to publicize New York’s “911 Good Samaritan” law encouraging people to call 911 during an overdose without fear of arrest for drug possession.

Why:  Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990 and have never been higher. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs. More than 2,000 New Yorkers die each year from overdoses and prescription opioid overdoses rose seven-fold in New York City between 1990 and 2006. In 2011, the last year for which complete data is available, there were 231 reported overdose fatalities in Suffolk and 128 in Nassau, for a total of 359 reported fatalities, just short of one per day.

New York State’s “911 Good Samaritan” law, passed in 2011, encourages people to call 911 if they experience or witness a drug or alcohol overdose without fear of criminal charge and prosecution for possessing small quantities of drugs or alcohol. Still, most residents don’t know about the law as evidenced by an incident last fall in which Stephanie Bongiovi, daughter of acclaimed rocker Jon Bon Jovi, was arrested in Kirkland, NY after overdosing on heroin. Days later, Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara dropped the charges, saying that “People will say she got away with murder because of who she is, but this [911 Good Samaritan] law was passed so people don’t watch somebody die because they’re afraid of jail.”

Additionally, the Suffolk County Legislature recently expanded a pilot program that trained and allowed Suffolk County police to carry naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, in their police cars. The pilot initially involved 60 sector cars and has been credited with more than 40 reversals to date. Nassau County has become a certified Narcan training center and is conducting overdose prevention workshops. LICADD has begun training parents in the administration of Narcan and is urging school districts, fire departments and others to get certified and have the drug on-hand, similar to AEDs and Epi-Pens.

Where: LICADD’s Mineola Office- 114 Old Country Road, Suite 114, Mineola, NY 11501 (Directly across from the courthouse)

When: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 10:00AM

Contact:     Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds, Executive Director, Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD)

Phone: 516-747-2606; Cell: 631-513-5757; email:



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