By STANLEY JORDAN
The New York State Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction today released a report summarizing findings and recommendations resulting from forums held across the state to address New York’s ongoing heroin epidemic. Senators Terrence Murphy (R-C-I, Yorktown), Robert Ortt (R, North Tonawanda), and George Amedore (R-C-I, Rotterdam), the Co-Chairs of the Task Force, announced the report’s findings which include comprehensive legislative recommendations to address shortcomings in the state’s existing opioid prevention and treatment-delivery strategies.
In its report, the Task Force identified a four-pronged approach that would stem the growth of the heroin and opioid crisis – prying loose the stranglehold it has on New York’s communities – and supports those battling their addiction on the journey to recovery:
Prevention: increasing awareness to better educate the public of the inherent risks involved in using heroin and prescription opioids, and taking advantage of technological advances available to deter the abuse of prescription drugs and prevent addiction.
Treatment: recognizing the critical need for expanded and improved insurance coverage, and enhancing access to all forms of effective treatment – including inpatient, outpatient, and Medication Assisted Treatment – in order to help individuals return to stable and productive lives.
Recovery: providing the proper supports, such as safe environments, stable employment, and opportunities to participate in diversion programs that avoid incarceration in order to facilitate successful recoveries from
Enforcement: implementing criminal justice reforms that give law enforcement the necessary tools to disrupt the supply of heroin and stop the diversion of opiate prescription medications within the state.
Task Force Co-Chair Senator Robert Ortt said, “This report represents the conclusion of over a year of traveling across the state – from Niagara to Long Island – and listening to those at the front lines of the heroin epidemic. Our recommendations incorporate the specific expertise from a broad array of community stakeholders – the heartbreaking stories from addicts and families, best practices from recovery and treatment specialists, preventative outreach from medical and education professionals, and enforcement tools for police officials. I’m hopeful that the Assembly and the Governor will join us to implement these legislative solutions to take back our communities and save lives. Although the report may be completed, let us be clear that as public officials and Chairs of the Task Force, our work on this critical issue will not cease.”
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