YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE GROWING HEROIN EPIDEMIC by Dr. Henry Paul, MD

March 2nd, 2015

“What we’re seeing now is the pendulum swing from the legislation that was developed around prescription medications,” said Mark Gilmore, senior investigator with the Putnam County sheriff’s office. “The e-prescription program went into effect and cut off the supply line of falsified prescriptions. And that,” he said, “has made addicts turn to a quick, cheap fix in the form of heroin.” Senator Murphy pitches plan to combat heroin. Amanda Purcell, Poughkeepsie Journal, 2/27/2015

hdFor the past year, I have been blogging about the growing heroin epidemic in the United States. This growth is in large part due to the “gateway drugs” known as painkillers.

Elected officials in New York State have turned up the heat on the heroin epidemic (and it is an epidemic!) by forming coalitions and doing community education and outreach. Through awareness campaigns targeted at educating parents about the drug dangers facing their children, and at educating the children and the community at large, it is believed that we can fight this growing epidemic.

Heroin does not discriminate. From the wealthy to the poor, the cities to the suburbs, and the college campuses to the streets – heroin is big a problem.

Senator Terence Murphy (40th District) representing the New York City suburb communities in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties said in a recent interview with the Poughkeepsie Journal (the Gannett daily newspaper) that, “I campaigned on this. I’m three weeks into my tenure here and I want to get out of the gate swinging,” Murphy said. The article went on to say, “Statewide, there were 89,000 heroin and prescription painkiller treatment admissions in 2013, 25,000 more than in 2004, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. Locally, treatment facilities are full, or near to full, and recently, federal, county and local law enforcement arrested 21 and seized $1 million worth of the drug.”

After one of the biggest heroin drug busts in Westchester County in January, Westchester County Police Commissioner George Longworth said during a press conference announcing the arrests, “Some people may think that heroin is only an inner-city problem, but it’s not, Heroin is being sold on tree-lined streets. It is being used by — and sold by — young people who live in comfortable homes and circumstances. No community is immune.”

Senator Murphy is taking his message on the road saying that he intends to hold a forum every two to three weeks in his district. He held his first last week. If you have the opportunity to go to Senator Murphy’s forum or a forum in your district or  at the local high school – GO! The more ALL of us understand this epidemic the better equipped we will be to stop it.

The specifics of Murphy’s plan include:

  • Sponsoring legislation to require insurance companies to cover drug treatment and rehab up to ninety days;
  • Using drug seizure proceeds to provide funding for NARCAN, a potentially life-saving overdose treatment, to all first responders;
  • To help with prevention, state funding for school resource officers (Police SROs) and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) in all area schools by restoring the Gap Elimination Adjustment school aid cuts made by Senate Democrats in 2010;
  • Forming an federal-interstate-local joint, inter-agency law enforcement counter-narcotics proliferation task force and removing legal barriers to data sharing, aspects of which are already underway;
  • A state grant program for a local narcotics units to provide stepped up enforcement against drug distributors;
  • Increasing penalties for major narcotics traffickers; and
  • Restoring funding cuts enacted by Senate Democrats to the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to fund peer recovery advocate, addiction services and treatment programs.

Ten years ago, most people never knew a person who died from a heroin overdose. Today, most people know of someone – a friend of a friend, the girl up the road, the son of a friend at work, their niece, son, brother or sister – and the list goes on. More awareness outreach and more money for law enforcement are needed to combat the “heroin epidemic” on the streets. Find out how you can help in your community. We all can make a difference.

Previous blogs on heroin:

GOVERNOR CUOMO RECOGNIZES THE HEROIN EPIDEMIC AND IS DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT

THE GROWING HEROIN PROBLEM IN AMERICA

Disclaimer
This blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.