NY: Another drug mess at North Shore’s ‘secret staircase’? (opinion)

silive News –

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – It’s one of my favorite parts of Staten Island.

But it’s a troubled area as well.

I’m talking about the “secret staircase” on the North Shore that goes from Tompkins Circle down to Victory Boulevard.

It’s a link between one of the tonier parts of the North Shore and a grittier, more working class neighborhood below.

It’s also been a spot where in years past I’ve found hypodermic needles, heroin packaging and other evidence of drug use.

It could have just been trash, carelessly dumped at the bottom of the staircase for whatever reason.
But it still caught my eye given the other drug-related debris I’d found on the staircase in years past. I was curious whether any of these drugs, while benign if used according to the label, could be abused.
“They are all strong get-high potential meds,” said Luke Nasta, CEO of the Camelot Staten Island treatment center, “especially when taken together and with alcohol, pot, illicit drugs. They are also high-risk overdose combinations.”
This one in particular interested me, a bottle containing promethazine hydrochloride and codeine.

Used as a cough suppressant, this drug can be misused by those looking to get high. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Here’s another bottle of the same stuff, clearly labeled, “Not For Household Use.”

This bottle is labeled “Not For Household Use.” (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

“It’s the caviar of drugs,” Ronald Peters, a retired professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston was quoted as saying on Drugwatch.com.
Quetiapine, below, is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as generalized anxiety disorder, major depression and mood disorders, according to the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Ordinarily benign medications are often misused by those looking for a drug buzz. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Quetiapine is also abused in combination with other illicit substances, such as cocaine or other sympathomimetics, to enhance their effects or to aid in self-treatment of withdrawal.

Another empty pill bottle found at bottom of North Shore’s “secret staircase.” (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Sometimes the medications are mixed with alcohol or other drugs for illicit purposes. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

This empty pill bottle was also found at the bottom of the North Shore’s “secret staircase.” (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Nasta said that there definitely was the opportunity for many of the drugs seen here to be abused, seeing as they are painkillers or give an alcohol or sleep effect.
“It could be all legitimate or recreational use,” he said when shown pictures of the pill bottles I’d found. “Definitely dangerous.”
The debris had been removed when I visited the staircase more recently.
In 2016, Advance videographer Amanda Steen and I did a video on the staircase after I had found some drug debris there.

I found more drug-related items after visiting the staircase in 2019, including the remains of a Naloxone anti-overdose kit.

Remains of Naloxone anti-overdose kit found on North Shore’s “secret staircase” in 2019. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Needle and condom wrapper found in wooded area not far from North Shore’s “secret staircase.” (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

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