Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Hurricane Sandy’s Second Storm: Substance Abuse on Long Island

Long Island New York is the home of many of SJS’ writers and as you might recall was the center of many posts regarding Hurricane Sandy. While the storm might be over, it appears that there is a second storm building. The region has had a substance use and abuse issue for many years, and it appears the impacts of Hurricane Sandy may have made matters worse by increasing the amount of drug users on the already treatment stretched Island:

“The enormity of the personal challenges and material loss experienced has overwhelmed the usual coping capacities of most people,” said Dr. James Dolan, director of the Nassau County Office of Mental Health, Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities Services, in a statement.

That includes previously sober superstorm survivors self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to deal with catastrophic losses of their homes, vehicles and belongings, as well as pre-Sandy substance abusers who’ve upped their doses to cope.”

This is not an uncommon trend, as according to the article: “Studies show illicit drug use spikes in the aftermath of natural disasters.”   However, the issue didn’t stop there. In addition to new users and the relapse of older users, active substance users were also faced with withdrawal that compounded preexisting issues for themselves as well as the community, and made family and friends aware of previously hidden addictions.

Preexisting cuts to limited funding for treatment facilities, as well as the temporary closing of one of the most notable treatment facilities on Long Island due to the storm, has left few services for what will likely be a large surge in abusers to come with in the next 3-6 months. Let’s hope we can prepare for this storm, or at least that we are ready to document our experiences to assist those faced with other natural disasters and the resulting substance use and abuse aftermath.

Written By Georgianna Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer


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