‘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

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…