Scott Brinton/Herald Life
The Bellmore-Merrick Heroin Task Force has met since early March. Above, at the May meeting were, from left, Saul Lerner, the Bellmore-Merrick Central http://liherald.cms.communityq.com/images/icon-move.pngDistrict director of health, physical education and athletics; Wendy Tepfer, executive director of the Community Parent Center; County Legislator David Denenberg; David Seinfeld, Calhoun High School principal; and Neil Brown, the North Merrick Board of Education president.
How could this happen? Seinfeld and Denenberg wondered. They pledged to try to stem heroin’s metastatic growth across Nassau County, including in Bellmore-Merrick.
“I knew in my head that I had to do something,” Seinfeld said.
A task force forms
In addition to Seinfeld and Denenberg, the heroin task force comprises Saul Lerner, the Bellmore-Merrick Central District director of health, physical education and athletics; Wendy Tepfer, the Bellmore-Merrick Community Parent Center executive director; Neil Brown, president of the North Merrick Board of Education; Maryanne Kelly, president of the Bellmore Board of Education; Mike Reid, of the Merrick Fire Department; and representatives of the Nassau County Police Department, Long the Island Crisis Center and area drug-treatment programs.
The task force is planning a series of educational forums over the coming months and years to spread the word about heroin’s grip on an ever-growing number of young people, most of whom start using it after becoming addicted to opioid painkillers. They switch from painkillers to heroin, experts say, because heroin appears to be cheaper. A small glassine packet of heroin sells for $5 on the street, while a pain pill goes for $30.
What many users don’t realize, however, is that heroin is so addictive that the body craves another hit every few hours –– often as many as a couple of hits per hour. In a 2010 Herald series on heroin, addicts said they could go through 50 packets a day (street value, $250), so many users start dealing to support their own habits.
“Right now, heroin is in style,” Lerner said. “It’s a problem.”
Tepfer added, “A heroin user can be anybody today … When you get hooked, it’s a disease. I don’t have any false hopes we are going to solve the substance abuse problem, but if we save one kid, we can make a dent.”
A life on drugs
Kevin Glenz could not be saved, said his father, who retired from teaching in 2008, after 36 years in the classroom. Kevin tried rehab many times. He never wanted to go. He was always coerced. He would stay clean for a while and then relapse.