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Suffolk To Fight Opioid Crisis With Outreach, Before Incarceration

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

On Long Island, the Suffolk County Police Department is trying a new approach to fighting the opioid epidemic.

The department has partnered with the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, LIECAD, to reach out to drug addicts before arrest or incarceration.

The police department will use information they gather from drug busts, arrests and intelligence work to target people who are suffering from addiction, and LICADD will reach out to them and connect them to treatment opportunities.

Police Commissioner Timothy Sini says this program will not be funded by taxpayer dollars, but by asset forfeiture funds, much of it from drug dealer busts. “We’re utilizing the money that we’re seizing from the individuals who are poisoning our streets to help those who are addicted.”

The program is called PIVOT, which stands for Preventing Incarceration Via Opportunites for Treatment.

PIVOT also focuses on outreach to family members of drug addicts.

Anthony Rizzuto, the founder of Families in Support of Treatment, one of the nonprofits involved in the program, says, “Often when the family starts becoming empowered, educated and being able to set boundaries, we find that the person gets closer to being willing to be open to help.”

The county is testing the program in the sixth precinct in Brookhaven, which has the highest number of drug overdoses in Suffolk. If successful, it will be expanded throughout the county.

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