Heroin use has more than doubled among young adults since 2006.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 90% of heroin users abuse other drugs, and among those addicted to heroin, 45% were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers. That makes almost two million opioid abusers in America alone. Every single day, more than a thousand people are treated in emergency departments for misusing them. One in every four people who receive prescription opioids develop a dependency on them.
It’s a problem. And the New York Senate has taken a proactive stance against it.
“Heroin’s devastating impact on our area can be seen on the faces of so many local families,” said Senator Catherine Young. “Each day we see the tragic consequences of heroin played out in our hospital emergency rooms, funeral homes, courtrooms and newspapers. Unfortunately, the story is far from over and action must be taken to stem the tide. If we are truly going to put an end to the destruction heroin is wreaking in our communities, we all need to work together.”
Young serves on the Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, and she’s committed to executing a four-pronged attack on the drug-abuse epidemic. Each prong is part of a big-picture effort to battle back against heroin and opioid addiction – a near-insurmountable opponent that’s only growing stronger.
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- Prevention – By educating the public on the dangers of heroin and opioid abuse, the Task Force hopes to curb addiction before it ever starts.
- Treatment – Those citizens who are already addicted need effective treatment, which might require inpatient, outpatient and medication assisted treatments.
- Recovery – Providing recovering addicts with a safe environment, jobs conducive to their recoveries and alternatives to incarceration can help encourage successful rehabilitations.
- Enforcement – Giving law enforcement better tools and know-how will help them disrupt the heroin and opioid pipelines that run through the state’s streets.
“We have all heard of the devastating impact that heroin and opioid abuse is having in our communities,” said Senator Patrick M. Gallivan in a statement. “Based on what we heard from parents, health experts, law enforcement representatives and others across the state, it is clear that it will take a unified effort to overcome this public health crisis. These recommendations help ensure that services and resources are in place to increase public awareness, to help those struggling with addiction and to provide law enforcement with the tools to combat this epidemic.”
The Department of Health and Human Services has commented on the heroin and opioid epidemic in the past. HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, specifically, has spoken about the issue’s effects on her home state of West Virginia. New York, which has invested almost $170 million to fight alongside Burwell, thinks the Task Force is a huge step in the right direction. But Senator Young is realistic about the size of this task.
“There is no singular law that will solve the heroin and opioid crisis,” she said. “But, by taking a comprehensive approach, we can make progress toward real solutions, and this is another major step forward.”