‘Heroin in pill form’: Staten Island racked by prescription painkiller addiction

staten island prescription painkiller abuse
Ann Marie Perrotto is a Staten Island mom who lost her son, once known as “Hurricane Chris” when he played baseball, to prescription painkiller addiction.
Credit: Bess Adler

“You’re not supposed to lose your children before yourself.”

Those words, uttered quietly and hoarsely by Staten Island’s borough president, summed up the searing pain experienced apparently disproportionately by Staten Island parents.

BP James Molinaro is just one Staten Islander who lost his son to painkiller addiction, and eventually overdose.

“There was no excuse for him to do what he did,” Molinaro said at a press conference last week. “But he was ten-foot-tall and bulletproof.”

In 2012, 190 New Yorkers died from overdoses related to prescription painkillers like Percocet, OxyContin, and Vicodin. Staten Island was hit with those deaths at three times the rate of the rest of the city.

The borough is disproportionately affected by prescription drug overdoses for reasons city officials can’t quite pin down.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley suggested a high rate of overdose in one area could be a result of a peer influence: doctors in a given location practice similarly.

“Physicians’ practices change as doctors talk to each other,” Farley said.

With that in mind, the Department of Health has conducted targeted outreached, visiting more than 1,000 health care providers throughout Staten Island this past summer.

They also launched a powerful television ad just a few weeks ago, featuring Ann Marie Perrotto, who lost her son to a prescription painkiller overdose.

Ann Marie’s son Chris was a happy kid, she said, and a great athlete. Local papers referred to him as “Hurricane Chris” when he played baseball.

Chris was prescribed painkillers after a car accident. When he developed an addiction, Perrotto said he told her the need for it “was like a demon in the back of his head.”

When she tried to get help for Chris, she said they were looked at treated like they were a bother.

“I was watching my son die and I had no control over it,” Perrotto said.

Ultimately, Chris could not beat back that demon in his head: He passed away in 2011 at the age of 22.

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Masked men robbed armored car in Mayfair, police…

Two masked men made off with more than $100,000 this morning after an armored car heist in Northeast Philadelphia, police said.

International

Putin fields question from NSA fugitive Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of intelligence eavesdropping, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on Thursday during…

Local

Teen in 'Jihad Jane' terror case to be…

A judge on Thursday is set to sentence a high school student who pleaded guilty to helping al Qaeda and working with the woman known as "Jihad Jane."

National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

Music

Center City Jazz Festival takes over four venues…

Shortly after graduating from Temple University, jazz musician Ernest Stuart packed up his trombone and headed to New York City. Soon he was gigging and…

The Word

'Mrs. Doubtfire' sequel in the works

Finally, Hollywood is making your dreams come true - they're making that "Mrs. Doubtfire" sequel you've been clamoring for all these years.

The Word

Lawsuit accuses 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer of raping…

A new lawsuit accuses director Bryan Singer of sexual assault against a minor.

Movies

The Cannes Film Festival announces its 2014 lineup

The lineup of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival was announced this morning, promising the latest from a slew of usual (and some unusual) suspects.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.