Monthly Archives: March, 2011

Sex, Suffolk and STD’s

 

BY: Jessica Radesco-Verdi

Like most other colleges in the U.S., sexually transmitted disease is still a disturbing issue of concern for administration and those affected here at SCCC. This escalating problem is having a devastating impact financially and medically on NYS and its young adults.

According to Center for Disease Control, there are 19 million new infections each year and nearly 50 percent of them are among 15-24 year olds. Many of these individuals do not know they are infected due minimal or lack of symptoms associated with many STD’s.

Despite public service announcements, access to information via internet, and anonymous testing STD rates are still rising. One reason is the embarrassment or stigma that goes along with having to request a test. Some may feel they will be judged or ridiculed leaving them to ignore suspicion or asking questions. Luckily with the help of the internet people are able to peruse health sites or ask questions on forums giving them some anonymous assistance or insight. However, inaccurate or erroneousness material is also posted online and shouldn’t replace medical attention.

More importantly there still is the problem of not receiving proper treatment for an infection which is dangerous and can lead to infertility or sterility. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea constitute for the two most commonly reported infectious diseases each year, especially among women. Two attributes of that are women seek medical help more often than do men and these are two of three diseases that are required by law to be reported to the CDC from physician/medical professionals (Syphilis is the third). Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and genital herpes do not need to be reported.

Here at SCCC, the health office assists students seeking help with sexually transmitted diseases and other various issues. Registered Nurse Agnes Hahn in Ammerman campus’ health office states that though they don’t test on premises for STDs, they will refer students to outside resources in the community.

The office is staffed with RN’s and one physician, and offer a plentitude of reading materials on this and other subject matters. “I would say 18-25 years old is the age range of most students seeking testing” claimed Hahn. When asked if these individuals were predominantly male or female, she replied “pretty equal mix”.

The goal is for those sexually active, on campus and off, to be safe but unfortunately the risks of unprotected sex are not deterrence for all. Therefore programs and resources need to be available such as Suffolk County’s Legislature 2010 budget review which specifies the ‘transfer of one Public Health Nurse I from the Public Health Nursing Bureau to Public Health Partner Notification to manage the increasing STD problem in Suffolk County’.

According to CDC data and statistics, in Suffolk County alone there were a combined total of 69,502 reported cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Syphilis (per 100k people) in 2008 amongst 15-24 year olds. Chlamydia accounted for 59,354 of those cases; this exemplifies how it’s the most widespread STD in the United States. Per 100,000 population, NYS Dept. of Health records Suffolk County exceeding both Oswego and Cortland Counties combined in the 20-24 age group for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis in males and females.

Suffolk has increased in all three STDs from 2006-2008. One possible explanation for Suffolk’s large numbers in this demographic could be that its home to more than 16 public and private colleges. Home testing kits now sold in stores could also have an effect on stats as well, by not having to disclose results to officials. To gain control of this growing problem NYS’ total federal STD funding was $11,216,285 but rising testing and treatment costs and prevention tactics are attacking the allowance.

This has led to innovative methods of awareness, as reported by the New York Post. Some New York City public high schools started a $1 million prevention and education program to reach the 15-19 age group which make up for one out of three Chlamydia cases in NYC. Treating and educating this age group could have profound impacts on the drastically high rising 19-24 age group.

The CDC recognizes April as STD awareness month and to promote this they have formed a website with numerous resources from putting a widget on your web page for locating a list of HIV test centers to viewing fact sheets on STDs. Since targeting the young adult demographic is key to decreasing the spread, MTV, the Kaiser Family foundation along with Planned-Parenthood and others have joined together to spread the word with the Get Yourself Tested campaign-GYT.

If you or someone you know would like to GYT get yourself tested below are some resources: SCCC Health Office: Agnes Hahn, R.N., Geraldine A. Keane, R.N. Location and Directions Kreiling Hall 106 Phone (631) 451-4047 E-Mail healthserv-ammr@sunysuffolk.edu Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, Inc. Patchogue Medical Center 631-475-5705 Fax: 631-289-6484 Farmingville Health Center FREE ANONYMOUS testing 851-3650 Contact your local health dept. 1-800-227-8922

Suffolk Students Watch Their Backs

By Brandon Mazzei

It has been said that “he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” While it remains unsure whether or not Dr. Samuel Johnson had Suffolk Community College in mind when he authored those words, they remain as prolific as they’ve ever been even centuries after their origination.

At the heart of every decadent society lies the cardinal desire to abandon all rational thought and behave like a beast. On the brink of moral decline, Suffolk Community College is one such society that has been poisoned by the sweet nectar of vice.

College life itself is a paradox of sorts, as often the years reserved for the highest degree of understanding and moral betterment give way to the most appalling acts of self exploration and moral deviance. While this may benefit students who attend community college’s in search of wild orgies and other sadistic rituals, there remains a more civilized student population that is appalled at the desperate cat calls that lurk around every corner.

The stench of sex is often too potent to be ignored when patrolling the hallowed halls of Suffolk, as men and women alike can be found competing for the opportunity to impress prospective mates. As subtle as a herd of wild dogs in heat, students gather in packs, shamelessly awaiting whatever sexual gratification that fate may bestow upon them. Men are especially eager to indulge their primal urges, willfully trading their dignity in exchange for a pick up line that may lead to pillow talk.

“I think it’s disgusting when older men try to hit on me as I walk to my car alone at night,” revealed Katie Higgins, an 18 year old Suffolk student who has witnessed sexual desire rear its ugly head more than once on campus.

“Walking in the dark through a dimly lit parking lot is bad enough after my night classes, but being hit on from a distance by men that I have no interest in approaching scares me. To make matters worse, there are hardly ever parking spaces close to the buildings. Even the call box is far from the main four buildings, god forbid I would ever actually need to use it,” she explained.

While issues such as rape are not as prevelant at Suffolk as they are at other colleges across the country, the possibility of such a crime weighs heavily on the mind of many women who navigate the campus on their own.

Higgins is not alone, as a recent poll conducted on campus revealed that out of 50 students polled, 14 of them said that they felt unsafe on campus, which equates to 28 percent of students polled. Another similar poll resulted in 20 percent of students stating that they believe security on campus is inadequate.

When questioned, a security officer who wished to remain anonymous stated that “it is impossible for us to patrol every part of the campus at all times, it’s not realistic. We do the best job we can do, but that’s not to say some students may not feel unsafe while on campus, especially at night.”

One student who conveyed no worriment in regards to his personal safety on campus was Robert Zeph, a 19-year-old currently attending Suffolk. “I have no problem walking to my car in the dark, but it’s annoying to have to walk the length of the parking lot just to get to my car because there’s never any parking spots.” The availability of call boxes on campus are so miniscule that students like, Zeph seemed oblivious to their existence stating that he had “never seen one.”

While Zeph may embody the sentiments of most men on campus, it is important to remember that men are generally the ones who are overly anxious to initiate socialization with a female, which often frightens the very same women they were hoping to impress.

Human attraction dictates that females may never feel entirely safe on college campuses, but there are incentives that could be taken to provide Suffolk with a much safer atmosphere.

These measures, though costly, could prove invaluable as it pertains to student’s quality of life. By installing more lights throughout Suffolk’s parking fields, as well as bolstering up security forces and making call boxes more readily available, some student’s may be able to take the anxiety out of the daily trips to and from their cars in the dark.

Some may argue that the fiscal cost would outweigh the possible benefits, but there is truly no monetary value that can be placed upon peace of mind.

Drivers Screeching From Ammerman Parking Lots

By Sean P Quigley 

The majority of the college’s expanding student population attends the Ammerman Campus, creating an aggravating, time consuming and most importantly dangerous driving environment for students and faculty alike.

Most anyone on campus can relate to the toils of being stuck in an Ammerman parking lot. From trying to slip into the long curving snake like lines of cars to waiting 30 minutes for a parking spot, the traffic issues are experienced by everyone. People must screech, slide and speed onto the road less than a second before being clobbered by another vehicle, or sit around at the head of the 30 honking, jeering, impatiently piloted cars following for sometimes tens and tens of minutes, waiting until the clouds break and just for a moment a safe exit is made possible. “It’s like Riverhead Raceway at that damn place,” shares criminal justice major Andrew Klingman. Many people, from students to administrators, feel that Suffolk is one big accident waiting to happen.

This has been a daily struggle and risk for the SCCC community, still who to blame and what to do remain a mystery. Campus Dean/ CEO James Sherwood assures that traffic study’s are in fact being done and a paving project has been underway but admits he is aware of little of what the study consists of and that Jon Demaio, Administrative Director of Educational Facilities would be the key person to shed light on such matters.

Demaio explained that “traffic engineering is an interesting animal” and shared some possible ideas and their drawbacks on how to make SCCC a safer place to drive, confirming that “it is a problem we are aware of and concerned about.”

A traffic light is frequently proposed but is not realistic because it would have exasperating effects further down the road. Students and faculty would soon find themselves jam packed and crammed all the way down Nicolls road if one were to be installed. A roundabout is one other option he discussed but went on to share that the lack of property and the limited budget on the college puts a big halt on such a “significant change.”

Despite the turtle-like progress, short term solutions are in the works. Starting this past summer and continuing this summer, improved placement of traffic signs will be underway. Also, a fresh paving job on the pothole littered abyss in which students drive will be completed . Demaio realizes that something must be done on the schools part but is not blind to what may be the main factor in the perils of Ammerman’s roads, students.

The youth, above most anything are known for reckless driving. Demaio points out that he witnesses the danger first hand when he sees “hazardous driving, impatient maneuvers, and students flying through campus.” He explains the only way to fix such a problem is through education, adding “you have to enforce rules and provide a penalty for that kind of behavior.” That notion is not only solely agreed upon by just the matured members of the institution, as evidence by Jourdan Cottone, a second semester student at Ammerman explained. “I believe the age of the people driving is dangerous, they’re still in the “invincible” stage.”

Clearly there are many factors to the problem. One cannot expect the institution to do something about it while the students’ hap-hazardly race about campus. At the same time, one cannot expect an entire generation to change the way they drive. Co-operation is needed on all sides of the spectrum to progressively work towards a solution. Without a doubt, it take a lot of time and even more money for Suffolk to make any significant movement, so the first step towards making Ammerman a safer place to drive is to focus within. Students must think before slamming their foot on the gas and cutting their wheels sporadically into the road. Drivers must practice using better judgment and harbor more respect, patience and courtesy for the road and fellow members of the SCCC community. Until then watch your backs while cruising the campus because you’re bound to, hopefully figuratively, run into an under-skilled, overly aggressive driver.

Due to Recent Break-ins Students & Officials Take Steps to Minimize Larceny On Campus.

By Eric Santucci

On Feb. 9, a safety notice was sent out to all campus students via e-mail and Facebook that separate vehicle larcenies (break-ins) occurred across all three Suffolk Campuses. The incidents all occurred between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Feb. 7 and the advisory notice was subsequently sent out by the Office of Public and Fire Safety two days later.

The notice advised each student to save the Office of Public Safety phone number in cell phones so student can notify them immediately in the event of further larceny. In addition, it was strongly recommended that students refrain from leaving valuables visible in their car.

“Even little things like a few dollar bills I make sure that I put them under something or I put them into the glove box,” Jon Wright, fourth semester Suffolk student, said. “Also, even if there is no iPod connected to it I make sure that the iPod connection wires can not be seen. People may think that there is something connected to it and try to break in.”

The notice neglected to mention whether or not items of value were lifted from the vehicles subjected to the larcenies on Feb. 7. However, the notice clearly stated the need to lock cars at all times and to never leave valuable property in vehicles. If valuable items cannot be locked away, they should be relocated to the trunk or in a concealed location in the back.

“I would definitely lock my car and hide valuables. Usually if there’s nothing valuable in sight people are more apt to leave your car alone,” said Suffolk Journalism major Josh Batchelder.

A crime statistics listing on Suffolk Community’s website stated that between 2007 and 2009, there were an estimated 20 vehicle larcenies and at least one motor vehicle theft across Suffolk’s three campuses.

In a brief survey on Suffolk’s Ammerman Campus, conducted amongst 20 students, garnered the following results: 17 out of 20 claim that their vehicles had never been broken into, one claims that theirs had been broken into in their first semester, and two claim that theirs had never personally been subject to larceny, but they witnessed a break-in taking place before. All 20 also stated that they would prevent larceny by either hiding their valuables or personally carrying their valuables with them.

Although the survey results were relatively inconclusive, it was stated in the advisory notice that the three larcenies that occurred on Feb. 7 took place in nighttime hours when there is less likely to be witnesses. This is all the more reason for students and faculty to stay vigilant in order to prevent larcenies from reoccurring on campus.

Lack of Information Helps Rumors of Security Flaws Prosper at College

 

By Alyson Feis

   Since the elementary years, students have been taught that safety come first. But students at Suffolk County Community College seem to question if public safety is making all necessary attempts to keep students safe.
   Emily Baron, a student at the Grant campus worries about her safety when walking to her car after her 6 p.m. class. “They should have more lights in the parking lot; I can’t see much when I’m walking to my car at 9 p.m. Not safe!” She added.
   Micheal Antinucci, also a student at the Grant campus, accuses public safety of doing nothing on campus. To support his accusations he talked about the car break-in earlier this semester. “Multiple cars got broken into on all campuses and they didn’t even know about it till someone called.”
   One student spoke about public safety’s role on the Ammerman campus when she was in school nearly five years ago. “It ‘sucked’ when I went there. I’m sure it hasn’t improved much,” Erin Easop continued to accuse the public safety of being overpaid and under-worked.

Diana Spinosa, a current student on the Ammerman campus agrees, “They don’t do anything!”
   Chris Randazzo, another student at Suffolk says he’s actually seen people smoking marijuana on the Ammerman campus. He questions why security doesn’t notice. “If I’m just walking through the parking lot and I can see and smell people smoking weed, why is it so difficult for security to notice?”
   Grant student Brittany Holbert argues that the lack of visible security is an issue on the Grant campus as well. “I saw two people smoking weed outside the Ashroken Building in their cars.” She adds that if security was seen in the lot students would think twice about using drugs.
   Security guards on the job refused to answer questions regarding these accusations and therefore have no case against the students, yet. Inquiries were directed to Baycan Fideli who has not been able to comment thus far. Until we receive more feedback from officials, rumors of security flaws will continue to prosper on both Suffolk campuses.

Library Struggles to Stop Thieves

 

By Joseph Souza

As head librarian Susan Lieberthal sat down,  a soft sense of positivity surrounded her. As she began answering questions, that positivity waned, and it was obvious that discussing students stealing from the library was the cause.

When a student is attempting to steal a book, there is very little that a librarian can actually do to stop it. The culprit may set off every alarm, even commit the offense more than once, and under no circumstances can the librarian demand to check the student’s belongings. They have only the right to ask permission, but that is it. Fortunately in most cases, guilty or not, the student will approve the search. There are false alarms once in a while, which could be caused by a variety of reasons, from a having a book from another library to having a recently purchased book from the book store. Yet false alarms are few and far between though.

One of three reasons are usually given for theft according to Lieberthal; they forgot their ID, have a past due book and owe a fee, or the book they are trying to illegally obtain is a restricted book. No matter what the excuse, they are still attempting to steal, and that’s what really gets under her skin.

“We have no time limit on how long books can be taken out, so why do they do it?” Liberthal asked. Most of the librarians are here to help, and are willing to work with a student if they have some sort of predicament preventing them from taking a book out.

There are of course instances when an offender may get belligerent when asked if a librarian can search their bag.

During the 2010 fall semester at the Ammerman Campus, two serious incidents involving book theft took place. The one that stuck out the most for Lieberthal was when one young woman began to cuss and yell at her upon her request to search her bag. She stormed out of the library, alarms ringing, leaving the librarian with no choice but to call campus security for back up, who followed up on the complaint and tracked down the alleged book thief. A discussion took place, and later in the day the student returned to the library. Upon arrival, the alarms went off again, and instead of engaging with the librarians again, she ignored them and walked straight into the computer lab. After presumably completing her work there, she exited, but the alarms did not shriek for attention this time. They were silent, but upon further search, books were found scattered throughout the shelves, and it seemed fairly obvious what had happened.

The consequences for book theft are still not very strict, and unknown to the librarians because they are not the decision makers. The process is not complicated, but it takes all disciplinary powers out of the hands of the person who actually runs the building. The student’s ID will be obtained by the librarian, and then given to Dean of Students Charles Bartolotta. Dean Bartolotta then decides punishment; he explained that depending on the circumstances of the offense, the punishment will vary.

“Generally if it is a first offense (or the first time they were caught) I would ask that they return the book and put them on disciplinary probation with loss of privileges. If it’s not a first time offense, then there would likely be a more severe sanction which could also include suspension,” Bartolotta said in an e-mail.

Despite her lack of real authority pertaining to protecting her library, Lieberthal feels that the security measures are working. That same young woman with whom she had an altercation with last semester has been back to the library frequently since, with no commotion.

“I think it worked,” she explained, “I’m not sure what was said, but whatever it was, she hasn’t stolen again and even returned the original books. That’s all we ask.”

Campus security offices were not able to specifically detail what had been said to the student in question, but there is a procedure for every situation, big or small. Not even security is allowed to search a student’s possessions without permission, but yelling at a security officer is not as easy as berating a friendly librarian. When the student returned and decided not to engage in an argument, that was the first sign that what they said got through to her. She then put the books back; albeit out of place, at least she gave them back, and that is a win for the library in her book.

Librarians such as Lieberthal are often willing to give students the benefit of the doubt, understanding some have a lot on their plates. She explained, “It could have been a mistake, and we understand that,” then added “we’re not out to get anybody when we do this. We just want our stuff back.”

The positive air began to flow in the room again, as she even joked about the issue toward the end of the interview, explaining how the librarians avoid getting too worked up about it, “Sometimes I say it’s so cool! See, people actually still want to read.”

Ammerman Campus Kids’ Cottage offers childcare for student parents

By Michele Scheidecker

It’s the average age of the campus student population, boasts room for 45 children, and offers college-bound parents the chance of a lifetime.

Suffolk Kids’ Cottage Children’s Learning Centers provides parents with day-care for their children.

“Our mission is to provide child care so parents could get back into school,” said Director, Audrey Hopkins, of Suffolk Kids’ Cottage. The children learning center has been around for 22 years and is “one of the 11 in Suffolk County,” Hopkins said.

The centers are not-for-profit and licensed by the Department of Social Services under the auspices of the Suffolk County Community College Association and the Office of Student Services. They are supported through grants, SUNY fees, funds from the College fee, fund-raisers, and services provided to them by the college. The centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Each center is equipped with fire alarms and they meet the New York State building and fire codes and Health Department regulations. This information is according to the Day-care broshure. Director Hopkins is an early childhood major and enjoys managing the center.

“It is a small center but we can have up to eight infants, 12 toddlers, and 25 pre-schoolers at any time,” said Hopkins. “It is not difficult to manage the children because I have an educated staff that experienced early childhood education, often with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Early Childhood Education,” said Hopkins about her staff.

All staff members are required to have a criminal background check and are fingerprinted for clearance to work with the children. The staff teaches the children developmental needs such as physical, intellectual, social and emotional. They have a family-like atmosphere that is clean and safe. They also provide learning opportunities through multi-sensory learning that use carefully selected educational materials.

Most students are not aware that this program is available to them. The center is open from 7:30 A.M. until 3:30 P.M. Parents are welcomed to visit the center whenever they wish.

“Most students did not attend the student orientation and that is why they are not aware of us!” said Hopkins. The children’s learning center is a plus for families so that they are able to attend school and enhance the well-being of their child.

Library theft on the Ammerman campus

By: Melissa Ann Bornschein

This past academic year the Ammerman Campus library has hosted a total of three thefts and verbal conflicts in the library. Proper security equipment has been placed by the entrance and exit if its doors. Library staff has taken proper procedures to inform all students about theft and the consequences of stealing from the library.

One such incident of theft and confrontation occurred early this semester. After the security gates went off a student was asked if she had any material from the library in her possession. After being asked that question she instantly became hostile and aggressive. The student became irate and used words of profanity. The student then left, upon her return later in the afternoon the same safety equipment rang again stating that something of the library was still in her possession. The student agreed upon entrance again to speak with security and a librarian. Both educators and security spoke to the student about the negative and damaging effects stealing may have on an individual like herself and how it may harm her academically. When the female student left the library for the evening, the security alarm by the entrance did not ring.

Susan Lieberthal – Head Liberian at Suffolk County Community College stated the top three reasons why students steal from the library. “First is finical: Students may not have the money to properly buy the books he or she may need for their studies. Students also have the idea that if they were to barrow a book and not return it on time it would cost them money in late fees. Secondly Student Identification Card: Before borrowing a library book the student must present his or her student ID card to the front desk Liberian. Having this card allows the library and school know that you are in good standing with the school and in return will be able to loan you a book. Students who are walking away with library material are doing so because they are in need of certain book and do not have the proper id to loan and or barrow it from the library. The third and final reason I believe students steal is due to the fact that they just don’t care. Many students feel they are entitled to any and everything they want and that just is not so. They do as they wish not acknowledging there actions”.

Ms lieberthal also goes on to explain that the Liberians are here to assist students and help them with their academic needs whether it be through the computer catalogue, helping a student locate a book to helping the student make a photocopy. “We are here for the students” all we ask for is respect for our things.

Danny Mclydin a liberal arts major at Suffolks Ammerman Campus stated “It’s not fair that students steal from other students”. He goes on to say “What if I needed that information for an important paper, I am entitled as a paying student to be given that information and not have an academic hoodlum steal what is rightfully mine and my fellow classmates”

Dianna Paddington summarized the issue by saying “I can only hope people become more observant in their daily adventures of consideration and morality and understand that doing the wrong thing not only holds a negative outcome for yourself but the other individuals that surround you.”

Prescription drug abuse rises among college students

By James Rameizl

There’s a new drug epidemic on college campuses across the country, prescription drugs. According to the DEA prescription medications are now the second most used drug by people age 18-25, and Suffolk Community College is not immune to this distributing trend. The two drugs that are most abused are opiates (Vicodin, Oxycontin) and stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall). Prescription drug abuse has been on a steady incline in the United States. According to a 2004 study done by the FDA, roughly 6.1% of young adults ages 18-25 were currently using prescription medications non-medically.

One reason for the increase in abuse is availability, “Anyone can get oxy (Oxycontin, a strong prescription opiate) if you try, it’s so easy to find. And if you want Adderall all you have to do is go to the doctor, they give that stuff out like candy.” Said Michael Kesley liberal arts major on the Ammerman campus. Dealers have been taking advantage of a recent influx of counterfeit prescription pills trafficked into the US by Mexican drug cartels. These counterfeit drugs have made more pills available to sell for a cheaper price but unlike legally manufactured prescription drugs these counterfeit drugs are not inspected by the FDA. “You simply don’t know what’s in these drugs. They’re being passed of as brand named prescriptions but there’s no guarantee that they are what they say they are.” said DEA spokesman Laurence Payne.

Although drug education has been mandatory in the US throughout grade school drug use continues to rise in college students. College is known as a time for experimentation, but for some students experimentation can turn into addiction. Rehab clinics have seen the sharp increased in the number of college students entering for treatment in the past 10 years. In correspondence to the increasing abuse of prescription opiates, abuse of heroin is also increasing among people age 18-25. For many prescription opiates are a stepping stone to heroin, which provides a greater high for a cheaper price.

While abuse continues to rise some steps are being taken to stop abuse. The DEA is running commercials urging parents to hid their prescriptions from their kids as always the ultimate responsibility comes down to the individual, and the choices he or she makes.

Selden From the Tip of the Syringe

 By Alexander Corrigan

It is no secret that heroin is a serious issue here in Suffolk County. The scourge of heroin is claiming countless youth from the Island on a daily basis, with very few signs of stopping or even lessening its grips on the afflicted youth and adults. Latest on the ever growing list of the deceased is Georgie Singh, 22, of Nesconset. He died of a fatal overdose, the direct result of the intravenous use of heroin.

The first step in reversing the toll taken is to identify the source of the problem. Many cite the prevalence of prescription drugs, especially opiate painkillers, as the beginning of a habit. Prescription drugs have become more and more prevalent in and around college campuses and have a higher level of access to the youth than ever before. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), prescription drugs have become the second most abused behind marijuana. This spot has been previously held by methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and cocaine over the last 30 years. Legislation and law enforcement have reflected these trends and use has been scaled down.

Prescription drugs, however, provide a different challenge. A doctor will not prescribe cocaine or crystal meth to a patient, but he can, and often will, prescribe Vicodin or Oxycontin. Both medications are opiates, like heroin, and provide a similar high and effects, but are more expensive to obtain. DEA Special Agent Wilber Plummer agrees. “People often become addicted to pills and move to heroin because it is cheaper,” he said.

Edward Balzer of Mastic Beach watched his son descend through the same downward spiral until his eventual overdose. “My son’s problem started with prescription drugs,” he said, “It was the gateway to where he is now.”

Heroin has been made increasingly available and enticing to the youth, using designer labels and names to identify and draw attention to particular “brands” of heroin. According to Theresa Corrigan from the Nassau District Attorney’s Office, “For the young men… They’ll have a skeleton or a flaming skull. They don’t want to leave the girls out so they’ll have something labeled Prada.” This clever marketing draws in clients while clearly identifying different batches of heroin, increasing their popularity through word of mouth.

Another change in the marketing of the drug is making it readily available for inhalation, or snorting, like cocaine. There is a preconceived notion among users that it is safer and more chic. These underhanded tactics take away from the perceived risk and makes it seem even more glamorous.

Steps have been taken to help stem the tide of destruction and crime caused by these drugs and the toll it is taking on the Suffolk County community as a whole. One such initiative involves a DEA-sponsored drive to dispose of unused prescription drugs. This program is targeted at removing the drugs from the home in order to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. The DEA is also working in conjunction with local and state police agencies, the DA’s office of Suffolk and Nassau counties, and the Sheriff’s office in order to build a stronger and more coordinated police response to the issue at hand.

Suffolk County Executive, Steve Levy, also created a ten-point plan designed to address the issues stemming from the abuse of heroin and all the social, economic and public health issues it causes, such as trying to create more state and county sponsored rehabilitation programs to give help to those in need and to help set up more youth prevention programs.

Even with all these initiatives, programs and police intervention, the problem with drugs, especially heroin and related opiates, is still on the rise here in the heart of suburban Long Island. The Suffolk County drug map, created by the Suffolk County Department of Information Technology, compiles all the arrest records for drug offenses by hamlet. According to the map in 2009 the hamlet of Selden had 42 drug-related arrests. The following year, 2010, there were 107 drug related-arrests recorded for Selden. That means in a one-year period the arrests for drugs almost tripled in Selden alone.

The initiatives in place are good and definitely mark a clear and concise starting point but more needs to be done in order to protect the community. A lot of these programs Steve Levy proposed are lost in legal loopholes and wrapped up in red tape. There have only been a few pill drives, like the previously mentioned sponsored by the DEA, but it is simply not enough. In order to really be effective it needs to be held once a month, or even once a week. Doctors are prescribing pills on a daily basis, which in turn are left in a medicine cabinet well within the reach of prying hands.

The singer Neil Young once said, “I’ve seen the needle and the damage done,” and anyone with eyes can see the toll taken here in Selden, here in Suffolk County and here on Long Island. Until the legislature, rehabilitation and law enforcement evolve and adapt to the problem it is only going to continue to get worse as a new addicts are born every day.