County Leaders Unite to Fight the Heroin and Opioid Abuse Epidemic
Bellone welcomed Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz to discuss the findings of the National Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and to discuss policy and partnership solutions that have been recommended by the task force. Poloncarz is the New York State local government representative on the national task force.
The Long Island event brought together dozens of legislators, law enforcement, mental health, health care, and addiction prevention officials from Nassau and Suffolk counties.
“We will have these regional forums across the state. They are designed to discuss prevention and education strategies that can help to stem the tide of drug, especially opioid abuse in local communities,” said Erie County Executive Poloncarz.
“The heroin and opioid abuse epidemic is impacting too many families in our communities, and it cannot and should not be ignored,” said County Executive Bellone. “This is an opportunity for local government officials, law enforcement, and health care specialists to come together to see what's working and what needs to happen to address this issue now. With overdose rates continuing to rise, we must act now.”
The local meeting is part of a nationwide effort sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities to focus on strategies and programs that aim to prevent individuals from becoming dependent on prescription painkillers and heroin. As the number of drug-related deaths rise across the U.S., these local leaders are redoubling their efforts to boost prevention, designed to keep individuals from becoming drug dependent in the first place.
“This collaborative approach by local leaders is intended to bolster our respective efforts to mitigate the opioid crisis and strengthen the safety and security of our neighborhoods. These regional dialogues are designed to encourage community leaders to discuss the issues related to this crisis, growing trends, and proven responses,” said Matt Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties.
“As county leaders, we are entrusted with preserving the health and safety of our communities. It is our duty to do whatever we can to help break the cycles of addiction, overdose, and death that have taken hold in so many corners of this state,” said Schoharie County Treasurer William E. Cherry, president of the New York State Association of Counties, which is coordinating the regional events across the state.