Suffolk County hosting forum at Southampton church

Solutions Sought For Opioid Epidemic

Suffolk County is hosting a forum on substance abuse and opioids with the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the Kimisis Tis Theotokou Church in Southampton February 6. Independent/James J. Mackin

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and the Rockefeller Institute of Government announced “Stories from Suffolk” — a policy conversation among leading experts in the field on substance use and opioids — is coming to Southampton. The forum, assessing the next steps that should be taken to combat the opioid issue, will be held February 6 from 9 AM to 1 PM at Kimisis Tis Theotokou Church.

“County governments are the laboratories for developing smart public policy to combat the opioid crisis in New York,” Bellone said. “This forum will bring together leading experts in the field to share their experiences.”

The Rockefeller Institute of Government is a public policy think tank that conducts research and analysis to create what it sees as lasting solutions to problems facing New York and the nation. Through what the organization touts as rigorous, objective, and accessible analysis and outreach, it provides citizens and governments facts and tools needed to make informed public decisions.

“In more than a year of studying New York’s opioid epidemic, our researchers have found that to move the dial and tackle this crisis, policymakers must listen to the people on its frontlines,” said institute president Jim Malatras. “I commend County Executive Bellone for convening this forum to push the conversation forward on Long Island and identify evidence-driven solutions to this growing crisis.”

The event will assemble experts across the state including medical providers, academic scholars, community advocates, faith leaders, state officials, local law enforcement, and criminal justice advocates, including the CEO of the Family and Children’s Association Jeffrey Reynolds, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, Dr. Leslie Marino in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University, and Anthony Ferrandino, a counselor on the Northport-East Northport Community Drug & Alcohol Task Force.

The program will consist of two separate panels: prevention methods and treatment and recovery options. With a focus on large-scale suburban counties, the forum is modeled off “Stories from Sullivan,” a series shining a light on how rural upstate communities are addressing the opioid issue.

“This forum will cover a broad range of topics, both about what has been accomplished so far and what the challenges are ahead,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini, who has developed innovative strategies and partnerships among law enforcement agencies tackling the topic. “We will be discussing everything from prevention and treatment opportunities to new technology and law enforcement strategies being employed to combat the opioid epidemic.”