HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Mobile Recovery Unit is offering treatment to people with drug addictions in a whole new way by rolling into Long Island neighborhoods.
“I ended up in prison for three years,” said Veronica Finneran, who said her spiral down began with opioids and heroin.
Now she’s on the other side, reports CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
“By me meeting them and saying I’ve been there and here’s what I’m doing with my life now, it gives them a sense of hope,” said Finneran.
Finneran is part of the Mobile Recovery Team for the non-profit Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling Services of Hicksville, one year after federal and state grants funded this roving high-tech medical RV helped 200 addicted residents in their own neighborhoods.
“It’s been life-saving,” said Mary Silberstein of CN Guidance & Counseling Services. “I keep using that word because it is. It energizes us. It gives us the ability to say we are really doing something.”
“I think we’ve turned a number of different corners,” said Steven Chassman of the Long Island Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence.
Chassman says after alarming spikes in the opioid epidemic that claimed more than 3,700 lives on Long Island in 10 years, fatal overdoses have dropped two years in a row.
“In times of great crisis comes that great opportunity for health care professionals and educators and law enforcement to all come together,” said Chassman.
The unit was inspired in part by “Operation Natalie” in Nassau County, named after Natalie Ciappa, the Massapequa cheerleader who died from a drug overdose almost 12 years ago. It’s about outreach, and treatment on demand, her father agrees.
“We’ve got miles to go but we’ve made amazing breakthroughs,” said Vic Ciappa, the girl’s father.
Some recovering addicts tell CBS2 the stigma of entering a building and asking for help prevented them from getting treatment sooner.
“Sometimes we’re just there to listen so in building that rapport, people begin to open up,” said Kareem Strong of CN Guidance & Counseling.
For those in need, these small steps are key in tackling a devastating crisis.