Dyker Heights

State Senate passes 22 bills to curb opioid crisis

May 20, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The bills came about after the task force held numerous hearings around the state, including Dyker Heights. Pictured are state senators Mary Golden, George Amedore Jr., and Terrence Murphy (left to right). Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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Acting on a series of recommendations made by a special task force charged with investigating New York’s growing opioid crisis, the state Senate has approved a package of 22 bills aimed at combating the issue on several fronts.

Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) said that additional legislation is expected to come up for a vote before the session ends next month.

Golden is a member of the Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, a panel that held hearings all over the state and listened to testimony from law enforcement officials, doctors, educators, rehabilitation experts and recovering addicts and then issued a report containing recommendations on how the state should begin to tackle the issue.

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Oioids are pain killing drugs.

The bills, which were approved by the senate on May 17, include measures that would limit prescriptions of acute pain killers to a five-day supply; create a prescription pain medication awareness program; and create a card or pamphlet to be distributed with prescriptions outlining the potential risks of taking opioids.

Another bill would establish a Narcan kit registry to track the number of opioid overdoses New York state.

Golden said the bills approved by the senate reflected the need for improving prevention efforts, increasing access to treatment, expanding recovery options and providing greater resources to law enforcement.

“So many New Yorkers are bound by addiction, but we are lacking services that are accessible and the support for those who need it most. The passage of this legislation by my colleagues in the senate sends a clear and bold message that New York is not backing down from its fight to
win the war on heroin and opioid addiction,” Golden said.

The 22 bills represent a four-pronged approach, focusing on prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement, Golden said.

In terms of enforcement, the Senate passed legislation aimed at facilitating the conviction of drug dealers and creating drug-free zones around drug treatment centers and methadone clinics similar to the drug-free zones that exist around schools. Under the provision, anyone caught selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a drug treatment center or methadone clinic would be subject to additional prison time.

The legislation is necessary, according to Golden, who said statistics show that drug dealers prey on addicts by sitting in the immediate vicinity of a drug or alcohol treatment center or a methadone clinic waiting for the addicts to come out so they can sell them drugs.

The bills have been sent to the Assembly for consideration.

In February, Golden and two of the task force’s chairmen, state Sen. George Amedore Jr. (R-Ulster County) and state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Putman County), came to Dyker Heights to hold a hearing and heard testimony from experts who told the lawmakers that the problem is reaching crisis proportions.

In 2014, 1.3 million prescriptions for the pain killer Oxycodone were filled in New York City, said Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor.

Many heroin addicts start off by taking prescription pain killers and turn to heroin when they can no longer get their hands on pills, Brennan said. “Heroin is cheaper and it’s built to get high,” she testified

New York state’s I-STOP law was enacted to prevent so-called “doctor shopping,” in which addicts go from one physician to another to get new prescriptions. But in many cases, the addiction is simply transferred from pain killers to heroin, law enforcement officials testified.

There is also a serious shortage of beds in rehabilitation centers, according to experts, who said the shortage is particularly acute for addicts 18 years of age and younger.


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