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    By: Eric Gross

    State Senator Greg Ball has secured $60,000 of state funding to combat heroin and opioid addiction among Putnam’s youth.

    The funds will be channeled through the Peers Influence Peers program—a non-profit aimed at providing opportunities for young people to use their influence with their peers to make healthy life style choices.

    Ball called the epidemic of heroin addiction plaguing the Putnam region as “frightening. It is sickening to hear of the countless deaths in our communities. We must get to our young people before it is too late.”

    Upwards of three dozen young men and women have died of heroin overdoses in the Putnam area within the past 18 months.

    Peers Influence Peers will use the infusion of cash to visit high schools in Brewster, Carmel, Mahopac, Putnam Valley and Lakeland starting in September.

    Frank Reale, president of the Putnam Valley based organization, praised his members for producing a documentary “Chasing It,” that examines the explosive issue.

    Reale said the state grant will allow his group to “reach out to local high school students and their parents in order to raise awareness about the epidemic.”

    Susan and Steven Salamone of Mahopac lost their son to a heroin overdose last year.

    Steven Salamone said he was “excited and encouraged” by the news. “We are facing an epidemic and need strong tools to win the battle against addiction. Education is key towards preventing drug abuse. We must keep the momentum going.” (ARTICLE)