MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The best way to combat the opioid epidemic that has plagued the nation for the past several years is to remove the stigma of addiction and get people the help they need rather than put them in jail.

That was the theme of the message delivered by Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy when he came before the Town Board last week to discuss the topic.

“I am not really here to discuss the opioid crisis; everyone knows there’s an opioid crisis,” Tendy told the board. “I am here to get the word out that there is help and there is hope for people and I don’t think that is stressed enough.

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“My office does not just arrest people and put them in jail. If there are people with serious drug or alcohol problems, we do whatever we can to keep them out of jail and get them the help they need. Watching a drug addict or alcoholic go to jail, which is sometimes necessary, represents to me a failure—a failure on the defendant’s part; a failure on perhaps the family’s part; a failure on somebody’s services part. It always is a sad story and sad stories are failures, as far as I am concerned.”

Tendy said residents can call his office anytime if they have a problem or know of someone who does. He said he and his staff can provide resources that can save lives.

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