LONG ISLAND (PIX11) -- Teri Kroll of Lindenhurst, Long Island was getting ready for a long drive to Washington, D.C. Friday where she will spend the weekend talking about a painful subject: her son Tim’s fatal overdose from heroin.
Kroll is part of the National Fed Up! Coalition that will march to the White House this Sunday, demanding a federal response to what’s being called a heroin and painkiller epidemic.
“Three years ago,” Kroll said, “people didn’t talk about their children dying from heroin overdoses. They talked about their children dying from a heart ailment.”
Now, Kroll is trying to erase the stigma associated with heroin addiction, as the alarming number of fatal overdoses on Long Island in 2013 were revealed this past week.
The number set a record: 144 heroin deaths in Suffolk and Nassau counties in a one year period.
There are hundreds more overdoses that don’t result in death but take their toll on family life and learning.
Steven Chassman is clinical director at the Long Island Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, known as LICADD.
“There have been some principals saying ‘I’m having an overdose every three weeks in my schools,’” Chassman told PIX11 News.
William J. Madigan, Chief of Suffolk County Police Detectives, told PIX11 the antidote known as Narcan has saved more than 250 lives in Suffolk, since police started administering it in 2012, to heroin users found in respiratory arrest.
“We’re actually a national leader,” Chief Madigan said about the Suffolk County Police Department’s nasal Narcan program.
More than 1,200 Suffolk County police officers have been certified to administer the serum, which can reverse the deadly effects of heroin within three to five minutes.
Sadly, many heroin users still abuse the drug after getting their second chance at life and Chief Madigan told PIX11 about one recent case.
“We saved a person’s life at 9 o’clock in the morning,” the Chief said, “and by midnight that night, he’d overdosed again.” This time, fatally.
The Narcan program wasn’t around to help Tim Kroll, who was prescribed powerful painkillers for migraines, when he was just 19 years old.
He became addicted to the opiate-based drugs and later turned to heroin, which is much cheaper and offered a similar high.
Kroll bravely battled his addiction and reported the doctor who recklessly prescribed the opiates.
But Kroll lost his fight against heroin in 2009, when he was 23.
His mother, Teri, is now trained to administer Narcan and once saved a heroin addict who was overdosing in his car at a traffic light.