Families impacted by opioid addiction eager for settlement money to help their communities

Millions of dollars are coming down the pike for Nassau and Suffolk counties from the massive settlement with some of the nation's biggest opioid makers and distributors.
But some are wondering what is being done to make sure the money goes toward fighting the epidemic and helping those who are addicted.
Jerry Pelan, of Inwood, knows how hard it is to battle addiction. He's done it twice, after struggling with alcohol and drugs.
“I've learned that I have to stay connected,” he said. “I have to stay connected to people in recovery because they understand me best.”
Recovery, however, costs money. He hopes that money from lawsuits will be spent on helping people and communities decimated by the drug epidemic.
He and others are now closely watching the opioid lawsuit, as well as the settlements now happening with some big drug makers and pharmacy chains. There will be millions of dollars coming to Nassau and Suffolk counties -- the hope is that it will be spent on helping people and communities decimated by the drug epidemic.
Legislators in Nassau and Suffolk will be the ones doling out the money. Some of the settlements have restrictions included.
In Nassau, a special revenue fund is being set up to keep track the money.
Suffolk's presiding officer, Legislator Rob Calarco, says they don't plan to go that route.
"Myself and my colleagues have all made a commitment that we want to see these dollars going back into the problem and making sure that we're addressing the problem. So we are going to be ensuring that as we go through our budget process, that we do that," he said.
In the meantime, advocates say they'll keep pushing to make sure the money goes where it needs to.
"That means better prevention in schools for young people. It means better access to treatment on demand, so people are not on waiting lists. And it means support for people in recovery. There are a lot of folks who found a path to recovery making sure that they have the services that they need," said Jeff Reynolds of the Family and Children's Association.
Each county will be getting roughly $14 million from the pharmacy settlements alone.