Dyker Heights

Senate task force to hold hearing in Brooklyn on heroin addiction

Golden says drugs are ‘cheap and easy to get’

February 5, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Sen. Marty Golden (at podium) says more has to be done to combat the growing problem of heroin addiction in New York. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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State lawmakers, doctors and families of young people killed by heroin overdoses will all be in Dyker Heights later this month for a hearing aimed at finding solutions to a shocking and growing problem of drug abuse in New York.

The state Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction will hold a hearing on Friday, Feb. 26, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1305 86th St., starting at 2 p.m.

The bipartisan task force is chaired by state Sens. Terrence Murphy (R-Hudson Valley), George A. Amedore Jr. (R-Montgomery County) and Robert Ortt (R-Niagara County).

State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Southwest Brooklyn), a member of the task force, arranged for the hearing to take place in his senate district.

“We’re going to be hearing from medical experts, drug treatment counselors and parents who lost children to this terrible epidemic. Heroin is cheap and easy to get and that is part of the problem,” Golden told the Brooklyn Eagle.

When asked if he pushed for the hearing in Dyker Heights because that community has a particular problem with drug use, Golden said, “Dyker Heights has a problem. Bay Ridge has a problem. Bensonhurst has a problem. It’s a problem all over, in every community of this state.”

The purpose of the hearing is to gather information to formulate a multi-pronged plan to go after drug dealers and provide assistance to addicts and their families, officials said.

The hearing will also include valuable information on how parents can spot the signs of drug addiction in their children, Golden said.

“We have to do something. We’re losing our young people left and right to heroin overdoses. This younger generation, for some reason, is not the least bit squeamish about sticking a needle in their arm and shooting up heroin. When I was young, we were scared to death of the idea of needles,” Golden said.

Adding to the seriousness of the situation is the fact that heroin is cheap to buy and easily accessible, according to Golden.

“You can buy it for as little as $7 or $8. And the dealer will deliver it right to your door just like you’re ordering a pizza,” he said.

Many heroin addicts started with prescription painkillers. They would go from doctor to doctor to get new prescriptions for Vicodin and other opioids when they ran out of pills, a process known as “doctor shopping.”

In 2012, New York state enacted I-STOP, a law aimed at preventing doctor shopping.

Under I-STOP, a “real time” prescription monitoring registry system was put in place at doctor’s offices and pharmacies all over the state to provide timely information to practitioners and pharmacists.

I-STOP also requires that all prescriptions to be electronically transmitted, a move that eliminates the need for doctors to write prescriptions out on paper. It also lessens the chance of a doctor’s signature being forged by a desperate patient on a stolen prescription pad.

“I-STOP has done an outstanding job,” Golden said.

But in the wake of I-STOP, people addicted to prescription painkillers moved over to heroin, Golden said.

“They couldn’t get their hands on opioids anymore, so they went to heroin,” he said.

The statistics are shocking.

The New York Times, citing figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, reported in October of 2015 that heroin-related overdose deaths in the U.S. rose by 39 percent between 2012 and 2013.

Even more shocking, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths quadrupled from the year 2002 to the year 2013, the Times reported.

Seventy-five percent of heroin addicts in the U.S. started off as opioid addicts, according to the Times report.

There is help available.

The New York state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has a hotline, 1-877-8-HOPENY, to call for information and assistance. Residents can also visit the agency’s website at www.oasas.ny.gov/accesshelp.

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