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Lawmakers take up new legislation to reduce heroin use

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Albany/HV: Lawmakers take up new legislation to reduce heroin use
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Lawmakers in Albany hope to combat the deadly spike in heroin use in New York with new legislation. Jon Dougherty has more on how lawmakers hope to end the problem.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Laree Farrell was on a path to success but those were better days. At the age of 18, she was introduced to heroin.

"She was brilliant, she was smart, she graduated high school when she was 16 with an advanced Regents diploma," said Patricia Farrell whose daughter overdosed on heroin. "And had to try heroin once. That's all it took was one time and she was utterly addicted to this drug."

For the next four months, her mother Patricia tried to get her daughter help, but couldn't.

Farrell said, "We ran into road blocks with insurance, rehabs, extended rehabs, aftercare from rehab and my daughter relapsed twice. The second time it killed her."

She died in March of last year, a week shy of her 19th birthday. She was one of nearly 500 people who the state department of health says died of a heroin overdose last year. Numbers that law enforcement officials say continue to rise at an alarming rate.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said, "I'm sick of going to houses and seeing young kids that tried heroin once dying. We're seeing it every day."

This week in Albany, some answers. Six bills proposed by Senate Democrats to help combat what they call the growing heroin epidemic in New York State.

"Let's make sure we increase the penalties for someone who sells which results in death. We do public service/public announcements, we do treatment which has been lacking, and really get everybody on the same page to fight this problem," said Sen. Neil Breslin, D-N.Y.

The legislation would also extend insurance coverage at drug treatment centers like the Addictions Care Center of Albany.

"We would provide better care. It's proven the longer that a person is in treatment, the better the outcome," said Keith Stack, Addictions Care Center if Albany.

But, even with these proposed bills, many agree there's still a long way to go before the heroin problem is solved.

"Clearly with heroin you do need to be in a very intensive residential setting for a period of time and then step down to a patient. It's a very challenging addiction and long term treatment is frequently the best solution," said Stack.

"We got to start enacting some laws. Insurance has to start paying. We have to up stiffer penalties. We got to get this stuff off the streets," said Farrell.

The bills were submitted Monday and its unknown if they will make it to the Senate floor for a vote, but the Senate Democrats called them common sense bills that everyone should support.

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