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Opioid Drugs

New York State Opioid Measures Passed by Senate

— February 26, 2020

New York passes bills aimed at combating the opioid crisis.

New York State Senate Democrats, via a 61 to 0 vote, passed a host of bills geared toward combating the opioid crisis.  The package includes measures to increase access to addiction treatment and recovery options, new standards of education for medical providers and changes to the way prescriptions are authorized and dispensed.  The conclusions of the state’s Joint Task Force on Opioids, Addiction and Overdose Prevention were also released.

One of the bills, titled “Stephen’s Law” is named after Stephen Canastraro, who died in 2018 following a drug use relapse and overdose.  Stephen’s Law is sponsored by state Senator Peter Harckham (Democrat, Hudson Valley).  It would authorize drug treatment centers to reach out to a patient’s pre-approved emergency contact if a situation warrants it.  “My son Stephen was very transparent in his substance abuse struggle.  He was kind and loving and just wanted to get help,” said his mother Angela Robertson. “He had plans for his future.  He never got the chance.”

New York State Opioid Measures Passed by Senate
Photo by Joakim Honkasalo on Unsplash

“The devastating impact of the opioid epidemic does not discriminate against urban, suburban or rural communities.  All of New York state has suffered because of the crisis,” said state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins (Democrat, Westchester).

This month, The New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) also announced the inception of a new comprehensive public awareness campaign designed to raise awareness about addiction.  The “In the Know” campaign spreads awareness about widespread misconceptions concerning addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery.

“We are continuing our efforts to increase public awareness about addiction and eliminate the stigma,” said Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, co-chair of the NYS Heroin and Opioid Task Force. “This new campaign will help to address misconceptions about addiction and inform New Yorkers about prevention, treatment and recovery services available.  This is part of our overall strategy to help individuals and families struggling with addiction, combat the opioid epidemic, and help to save lives.”

“Unfortunately, many misconceptions remain regarding addiction, and this often prevents people from seeking out and receiving the help that they need,” OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said. “It is important that we continue to make every effort to ensure that people are informed about this disease. With this new campaign, we are addressing these misunderstandings and giving people the knowledge they need to find help for themselves or a loved one.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded that over 70,000 individuals died from drug overdoses in 2017 and The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that the overdose death rate in the state of New York has been higher than the national average.  The agency stated, “In 2017, there were 3,224 overdose deaths involving opioids in New York, a rate of 16.1 deaths per 100,000 persons compared to the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.  The greatest rise occurred among synthetic opioid-involved deaths (predominantly fentanyl) with 2,238 deaths reported in 2017, up from the 210 deaths in 2013.  Heroin-involved deaths also rose in the same four-year period from 666 deaths to 1,356 deaths.”


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