WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation that will help battle the growing heroin and opioid epidemic in New York State on Monday, June 23.
The new law includes: new programs and insurance reforms to improve treatment options for individuals suffering from heroin and opioid addiction; measures to strengthen penalties and put in place additional tools for law enforcement to crack down on the distribution of illegal drugs; provisions to ensure the proper and safe use of naloxone, an overdose antidote; and support for enhanced public awareness campaigns to prevent drug abuse.
"Heroin has become a public health crisis in communities across the nation, but today New York State is taking a stand to turn the tide on this epidemic," Cuomo said in a statement. "This legislation builds on actions that we have already initiated by strengthening our laws, improving treatment supports, instituting tougher penalties for traffickers, and training first responders and other emergency or law enforcement personnel in how to use a life-saving anti-overdose medicine. I am proud that we are rolling out this comprehensive and thorough response at a time when New Yorkers need it most, and I thank the many advocates, community leaders and elected officials who have made this day possible."
The new law comes on the heels of another set of new initiatives set forth by Cuomo to try and stem the rising drug problem in the state, which includedthe addition of 100 experienced investigators to the State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team.
Across the nation, heroin abuse has been increasing at dangerously high rates in recent years. In 2013, there were 89,269 cases of heroin and prescription opiate treatment admissions in New York State, an increase from 63,793 in 2004.
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