Earlier this week the Senate passed a bi-partisan, comprehensive package of legislation to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic that is sweeping through our neighborhoods. As the sponsor of two of these pieces of legislation that targets treatment and prevention, it gives me great hope to hear my colleagues in the Senate, who spoke in support of these two pieces of legislation, talk about heroin abuse and addiction as a disease that needs to be treated as such.
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo was at Rockland Community College to announce an initiative that compliments that package of legislation put forth by the task force, it goes to show that he has heard the noise that we have been making across the state about this epidemic.
In the past few years in Rockland seizures relating to drug overdoses has increased by 67%. Police investigations have doubled and since 2013, hospitals in our area have seen a 97% increase in heroin related cases. This is no longer a problem of the inner city. Instead of focusing on a law enforcement solution, we need to listen and focus on the parents and victims affected by this diseases. Many of the pieces of legislation that passed the Senate this week targets that critical window of time where if supports and services were provided to an addict, it could have saved their life.
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (S.7651)
The first piece of legislation that passed in the State Senate creates the Assisted Outpatient Treatment for Substance Abuse Program. This will allow a process in which a family member to petition a court to obtain an order for assisted outpatient treatment services. These critical life saving services include case management services, substance use disorder services, detoxification treatment plan, medication supported recovery, individual or group therapy, day or partial day programming activities, tests for the presence of alcohol or illegal drugs, supervision of living arrangements and any other services prescribed to treat the person's substance use disorder to assist the person in living and functioning in the community.
This legislation will ensure that there is a mechanism there to get someone the who is addicted to heroin or opioids the help that they need.
Wraparound Services (S.7650)
The second piece of legislation that passed the State Senate will establish a program to provide wraparound services to individuals who have successfully completed a treatment program for up to nine months to further their recovery.
These services include: educational resources, peer to peer, social services and family services and counseling, employment support and counseling, transportation assistance, medical services, legal services, financial services and childcare services.
Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) said, “This legislation is in direct response to the parents that we heard from that unfortunately lost their children to heroin and opioid addiction. Right now there is no mechanism in place to allow for parents that see their children having an obvious problem to act. This legislation will give parents and loved ones the ability to petition a court to make sure that the person suffering from addiction receives outpatient treatment.”
Local Parent Michael Zall said, “My wife, Lynn and I, appreciate the great effort by Senator Carlucci in obtaining passage of this legislation. This legislation is one of the many steps needed by New York and this nation to prevent and treat the overwhelming disease of addiction, that has not only killed our son Jeremy, but takes the lives 40,000 people per year and devastates the family of the addicted. Thank you Senator.”
Putnam County Parent Chanel Fariselli said "Going to the insurance companies, and /or various agencies, is not the 'be all and end all'. The process, as a whole, is not working. Good, loving families are crumbling in record numbers, because of the arduous strain and burden that addiction places on everyone. Ultimately, if immediate and significant changes aren't made at the legislative level, more lives will be lost."