24/7 Substance Abuse Hotline by April in Suffolk

Hauppauge - (LInews) Help in battling Long Island's opioid epidemic will soon be a phone call away.

Suffolk officials and local authorities who are working to overcome our substance abuse crisis introduced plans Thursday for a hotline to help users, and their families, who are suffering with drug addiction.

Beginning in April, Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) will operate a 24 hour hotline to provide screenings, referrals and follow-up for those who seek assistance with substance abuse, said county officials.

"We need to tackle this epidemic on all fronts, including prevention, treatment and law enforcement," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone Thursday. "The creation of a local 24/7 hotline is now another tool in our arsenal to assist those who are battling opioid and heroin addiction and their families," he said.

Suffolk Legislator, Doctor William Spencer (D-Centerport) said the always-available hotline can be a life saver. "Often, there is a critical and brief period of time when a person sees clarity, and makes the decision to seek help," said Dr. Spencer. "This hotline can be fertile ground for change and recovery, as it can quickly link residents to crucial healthcare services," he said.

Legislative Majority Leader Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said, "Every second counts to a mother whose son or daughter was found and saved from overdosing."

When the hotline is open, by April 2016, the Suffolk County Health Department will provide oversight, and will analyze calls and concerns to identify trends and issues in our communities, said officials.

"A centralized hotline for people in crisis is a critical step toward saving lives, but we must do more. My colleagues and I look forward to our continued work with both the county executive and officials from Nassau County as together we fight to stem Long Island's heroin epidemic," said Suffolk Executive Bellone.