Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (FREE) opened Friday a new mental health facility in Oakdale that will treat patients suffering from substance abuse disorders, giving Long Island another option in fighting the opioid crisis.
The facility will focus on helping patients in recovery from fentanyl, heroin and cocaine, among other addictions.
“This is a resource that we can refer to and also learn so that various trends and data that you may be accumulating can assist us in how we can treat individuals,” Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon told reporters during the news conference.
The new treatment center is among many new initiatives being rolled out since Suffolk won multimillion-dollar judgments from pharmaceutical manufacturers that courts found liable for fueling the national opioid crisis.
“Ultimately, over the next 18 years, Suffolk County will distribute upwards of $250 million to opioid-related organizations,” Deputy Suffolk County Executive Jon Kaiman said, adding that the funds will aid in prevention, recovery, and treatment efforts.
Besides Toulon, various deputies and law enforcement officials attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“It’s about connecting to the broader community, which is why we’re so privileged to have law enforcement with us today,” Christopher Long, FREE’s founding CEO, said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said that despite ongoing drug busts, overdose cases are expected to rise from 399 last year.
“What about the others that are left behind, the addicted?” Tierney asked. “They need help, they need services, and that’s where FREE Comes in.”
FREE personalizes treatment for patients, acknowledging that everyone’s path to recovery is different and provides various resources for patients, such as sustainable employment and family education programs. But the biggest thing the new facility offers is a second chance.
“When you save one person, you save others as well, and they see that there’s a pathway to success, they see that there’s hope,” Kaiman said. “And hope is what gives people the opportunity to thrive and survive.”