West New York officials unveil ROQUE initiative to prevent, curb drug abuse

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West New York officials unveiled the new review opioid questionnaire, aptly referred to as ROQUE after the town’s mayor, as part of a drug prevention initiative.

Speakers during the press conference included Superintendent of Schools Clara Brito Herrera, who said that the district began to roll out the ROQUE program yesterday, with teachers receiving more information on the initiative today, with an overall emphasis on educating parents before a serious problem occurs.

Town Health Officer Gina-Miranda Diaz stated “prevention is definitely much better than rehabilitation,” explaining the dangers of heroin and Fentanyl – which were the cause of the recent death of a good friend.

“Prevention is definitely much better than rehabilitation, once you are addicted to opiates, your brain becomes accustomed to it … and there was an author who said, an editor, somebody wrote an editorial, he said comparing ‘withdrawing from meth vs. withdrawing from heroin, withdrawing from meth was like going to a spa,’” she said.

” … When people buy the heroin, they do not know that there’s Fentanyl in it. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. On New Year’s Eve, three people died from a batch, shortly after the New Year, and one of them was my friend’s brother.”

Additionally, Police Director Robert Antolos said the number one goal of law enforcement is to get the drugs off the streets.

“We accept the ultimate responsibility to get drugs off our streets and that’s gonna be our number 1 goal: you cut the supply, you cut the demand,” he said, adding that officers will receive more training when dealing with drug addicts – particularly those with children.

Office of Emergency Management Coordinator (OEM) William Bringas revealed that the number of suspected opioid overdoses have tripled between 2014 and 2016.

During a question and answer session with the media, Roque, a pain management specialist, said he was “well-versed with Fentanyl” since it is sometimes used during anesthesia – though he only recommends doctors prescribing the drug in the most dire circumstances.

Roque, who has been at odds with Gov. Chris Christie (R) and the state Attorney General’s office in the past, explained to Hudson County View what they’re involvement in substance abuse had to do with him starting the ROQUE program.

“I congratulate the governor for taking the initiative and bringing this, the awareness out there, but the reality [is] he’s only dealing with rehabilitation – and like I said before – once you’re into that mode … you gotta go through the PEERS: prevention, education, enforcement before you go into that rehabilitation.”

In a joint announcement in September, Christie and state Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced a Fentanyl ban, making seven “analogs” of the drug a Schedule 1 Controlled Dangerous Substance.

Roque has expectedly denied the accusation and vowed to fight against any future proceedings the state brings in the matter.

As Hudson County View first reported, Roque beat a commercial bribery charge issued by the state AG’s office late last year and they are now trying to revoke his medical license for allegedly improperly prescribing Fetanyl.

The mayor/pain management specialist spoke to us more in-depth about his ROQUE initiative in a Facebook live video embedded below.

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