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Suffolk County announces first round of opioid grant funding

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Rich Pedroncelli
/
AP

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone announced the first round of grant funding available after suing opioid manufacturers and distributors.

“We’re the first county in New York state and virtually the entire nation to file suit against the manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies who caused the epidemic," Bellone said. As a result of the success of these efforts, Suffolk County will have approximately $180 million over the next two decades to help fight this crisis.”

Community groups, nonprofits and county agencies can now apply for the first $25 million in funding for drug prevention, education, treatment, and recovery services.

Applications for funds start on Monday and are due on August 22. The process is open to public and private agencies, nonprofits and for-profit organizations. Agencies can also submit proposals that will help new and existing programs and those that encourage change.

Leg. Kevin McCaffrey, R-Lindenhurst, who is presiding officer of the county legislature, said Suffolk will direct the funding to where they use the money best.

“This money came with a cost and that cost was lives, and although we can never get those lives back again, what we can do is use this money to make sure that others don't have to suffer and that we don’t lose more lives.”

The county will receive around $180 million over the next 20 years to help fight the opioid crisis.

Leg. Sarah Anker, D-Mt. Sinai, said that money will be helpful, but they still have a long way to go.

“Kids are still becoming addicted,” Anker said. “We did see a drop in opioid deaths and that is, in large part due to Narcan training. Suffolk County is a leader in the country with Narcan training, so that has saved lives. But now again, we're seeing it come back up.”

Money could also be used to fund purchasing and training for using the overdose reversal medication, Naloxone.

Suffolk was also the first county in the state to implement Narcan training used by all police officers. In 2019, the county also started the DASH program, a hotline and crisis care center available 24-hours a day for to respond to assist police with mental health and substance use emergencies.

Natalie Discenza is a Sacred Heart News Fellow at WSHU. She is a native of Syracuse, New York.