Lawmakers seek to combat growing heroin epidemic - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers seek to combat growing heroin epidemic

Posted: Updated: Apr 29, 2014 03:47 PM
ALBANY, N.Y. – The New York State Democratic Senators have announced the introduction of six bills to combat the growing heroin epidemic throughout the Empire State.

Experts say heroin is purer and cheaper than it used to be and deaths from heroin overdoses in New York State have doubled from 2008 to 2012.

Members of the NYS Senate Democratic Conference, Albany County DA David Soares, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, and a mother who lost her daughter to heroin addiction stood at the forefront as the bills were presented. 

“I think it’s really important that families are coming forward and pointing out the heroin epidemic that’s out here, that we do something, and that we do something now,” said Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk 

The legislation focuses on six different areas. Those include stiffer penalties for selling opiods resulting in death, equipping first responders with overdose-stopping drugs, requiring health insurance providers to cover rehabilitation and anti-addiction medications, created a teen heroin abuse public service announcement campaign, and providing opiod rehabilitation services in communities. 

Lawmakers have already been active in their communities to raise awareness about this epidemic.

“I hope it doesn’t get into a Democrat-Republican. Everybody should read the bill and say ‘This is good for society, let’s pass it quickly, let’s move on and really get everyone on the same page to fight this problem,’” said Senator Neil Breslin.

A report was also released by the Senate Democrats detailing the heroin and opiod abuse crisis in New York with information gathered from a forum held in December last year. Sheriff Apple said a lot of people are talking about heroin but it is time something gets done and these bills represent progress.

“It’s a great thing. We’re talking about prevention, going out there and putting PSA’s out there similar to smoking stories. We’ll scare these kids. We’re talking about education; we’re obviously talking about the enforcement, making some stiffer penalties and those stiffer penalties aren't really for the low guy, those are really going to come down to that mid-to-high level drug dealer,” said Apple. 

Patricia Farrell found her daughter, Laree, dead in her home just one week before her 19 birthday last March due to a heroin overdose. Patricia says Laree was a gifted person, graduating from South Colonie High School at 16. She was also a talented artist and had a ton of friends. However, she had an addiction she hid from those who loved her.

“Insurance, detox, rehab, aftercare, ultimately losing her. No one's accountable, no sellers held accountable and we need stiffer laws and we need to put these guys away and get this drug off the street,” said Farrell.

Patricia also says the press conference, introducing the six bills geared towards helping to slow down the resurgence of heroin in New York, is a necessary step because her ultimate nightmare happened.

"Parents need to start putting it in their living room and letting their kids know how dangerous this drug is. You use once and you're done,” she said.

Senate Majority- Republicans have been hosting forums throughout the state. The last forum was held in Troy last week. 

And on NEWS10 ABC on FOX23 at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30, visit the local road that's pushing addiction to new heights, and see why shutting it down may not be possible.

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