By CONOR FEBOS
A recovering heroin addict told stories Tuesday of pain pill abuse that nearly took her life, as officials focused on the growing epidemic of prescription drug use scourging Long Island.
“I’ve been there, I’ve been an addict and I understand the dangers of prescription drugs and how far they have spread across Long Island,” said Danielle Pinto, 28, at a press conference in Melville. “We as a community need to fight this problem now, before another tragedy takes the lives of innocent people.”
The tragedy she referred to was the 2011 Father’s Day massacre at Haven Drugs in Medford, which ended in the brutal slaying of four innocent people after a Medford man, David Laffer, held up the pharmacy for prescription drugs to feed his and his wife’s drug habit.
But a panel comprised of speakers representing the judicial system, law enforcement, community pharmacists, and recovered addicts, said that people are forgetting the horror’s of last June’s attack, and that everyone must pick up the pace in the battle against drug abuse.
“Everyone seems to have settled down and moved passed what happened,” said Laura Bustamante of Medford, whose father was killed in the pharmacy shootings. “But there’s obviously still a major issue, and one that will undoubtedly end in another tragedy if not properly addressed.”
Officials said that the number of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers has increased by six million since 2007 in the state.
Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice detailed a comprehensive free run 4.0 v2 bill called “Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act,” or I-STOP, a real-time, online database for doctors and pharmacists to report and track the prescribing of certain controlled substances.
“Long Island is the epicenter of this problem,” said Rice, the Nassau DA since 2006. “We must raise awareness that there are dirty doctors and pharmacists willingly prescribing teens oxy-cotton and other opiates that can eventually lead to heroin addiction.”
Pinto echoed the need for parents to clean out their medicine cabinets. Or at least hide any prescription drugs from teenagers.
“The problem is starting at home,” said Pinto. “That’s how it started for me, and that’s how many kids are getting introduced to the drugs.”