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Rep. Zeldin Delivers House Floor Speech in Honor of Nicholas Lafond of Miller Place

September 13, 2017
Press Release
25 Yr Old Recently Passed Away Due to Overdose

Washington, DC - On Wednesday, September 13, 2017, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in honor of Nicholas Lafond of Miller Place, NY, who passed away last month from a heroin overdose. During the speech, Congressman Zeldin shared Nick’s story, and discussed the need to prevent further loss of life from the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic. You can view Congressman Zeldin’s floor speech here, or by clicking the video below. A transcript of the speech is below. 

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the memory of Nicholas Lafond a young man from Miller Place in New York’s First Congressional District, who just a couple weeks back, was taken from us far too soon due to the disease of addiction.

A bright, intelligent, and talented young man, Nick was loved by all who knew him.

He was an honor student who was accepted to Stony Brook University with the intention of pursuing a career in education.

However, from a young age, Nick struggled with anxiety, which sadly led him down the path to heroin addiction as a teenager.

He fought this addiction tirelessly with the love and support of his family and friends, and sought several forms of treatment.

Tragically, just last month, Nick lost his battle with addiction at the age of 25.

On August 31st, I attended a press conference in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day, where I met Nick’s parents, Francine and Leonard Lafond, and discussed their son who had been laid to rest only two days prior.

The courage of these heartbroken parents to come to this event and talk about Nick so soon after his passing is absolutely incredible.

As a father, the thought of losing a child is unbearable. Through my discussion with Mr. and Mrs. Lafond, you could feel their commitment to fighting this terrible epidemic so that no other parent would have to go through this experience.

Shortly after our discussion, I received a letter from the Lafonds detailing Nick’s story and outlining so many of the steps we can take as a community to make drug addiction a thing of the past.

From their words, you can feel their passion for this cause.

Though it is too late to save their son, Francine and Leonard have dedicated themselves to easing the grip of addiction upon our society.

Their selflessness and bravery in face of unthinkable tragedy is truly beyond compare.

Mr. Speaker, I am honored to stand here and share Nick’s story with you and the American people, and to discuss this critical priority.

Every single day, Americans like this young man fall victim to drug addiction.

It is one of the absolute greatest threats we face as a nation, and it will not subside unless we continue to act.

Here in my home county of Suffolk, heroin and opioid abuse is an especially deadly and destructive scourge.

There is no one solution to ending the drug epidemic; this is a complex issue involving all levels of government, our community leaders, law enforcement, schools, churches, and everyday Americans.

We must form a collaborative effort to discuss and develop localized community based solutions to tackle this crisis, by increasing treatment, recovery services, and education.

Simple incarceration is not, and will never be, the lone answer to this crisis.

In the last Congress, I was proud to have cosponsored and helped pass into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (S. 524), or CARA, which provides a total of $8.3 billion in funding over five years to help combat the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic, and funds many initiatives on the local level.

While this is a step in the right direction, it is not enough to truly end this plague upon our nation.

As Francine wrote to me in her letter, “To make headway against this awful epidemic, the approach MUST be multifocal, swift and forceful. We not only need dollars to be put toward law enforcement and treatment, both of which we know have limited effect. We also need to concentrate on addressing the underlying psychological issues that lead to opioid use. These are not drugs one uses to ‘party’, they are extremely strong and effective pain killers one uses to escape life. The world is a harsh place for kids today, so much different than when I or even you were young.”

The complexity of this issue is unrivaled, and we cannot turn a blind eye to any potential effort.

This needs to be a highest priority to resolve. 

We can not rest until tragic incidents like what happened to Nick Lafond become a thing of the past.

I’d like to read a poem Nick wrote while in rehab, only weeks before his passing, which describes his tragic struggle.

Anxiety is life to me 
Mixed with some sobriety 
Throw in notoriety 
This is my anxiety. 
Always looking over my shoulder 
Will this get better as I get older? 
Carrying it around like a boulder 
This is my anxiety. 
Dark holes and deep depression 
Popping pill after pill in rapid succession 
How did I not see the progression? 
This is my anxiety. 
Days to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years 
Why is my head constantly filled with fears? 
Keep a straight face, don’t shed any tears 
This is my anxiety. 
Waking up to go to sleep 
Climbing this mountain seems so steep 
Close to the edge, I’ll surely leap 
This is my anxiety. 

Thank you Mr. Speaker, I yield back.”