ALBANY -- Democrats in the New York State Legislature said Tuesday they are preparing a major response to what they termed a heroin epidemic in New York as they released statistics showing sharply increased usage statewide.
In 2012, 478 people in New York died of heroin overdoses, up 122 percent since 2008, according to the Democrats' report based on a series of hearings last year.
At a news conference held by the Democrats, Patricia Farrell, of Clifton Park, spoke about the death of her daughter Laree last year -- days before her 19th birthday -- from a heroin overdose.
"That was all it took -- one time," said Farrell. "Our kids are all at risk."
The 2014-15 state budget just adopted has a record $2.45 million to combat heroin and opioid abuse and for treatment, but hearings and negotiations continue on doing more. The increase in heroin use is shaping up as a major focus of the remainder of the legislative session.
The Senate's Republicans and its Independent Democratic Conference, which control the majority, along with the Assembly's Democratic majority are developing proposals. The session is scheduled to end in June. Yesterday, the Senate Democratic conference proposed requiring insurance companies to cover more treatment and provide greater access to overdose antidotes.The proposal would also call for public service announcements to warn youths andtougher penalties for selling heroin to an individual that results in death.
"Too many New Yorkers are unaware of how easily heroin and other opioids can destroy lives," said Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn). He said his older brother was a heroin addict and died in prison 30 years ago.did he die of a heroin overdose?/el/he had aids and also was on methadone so its complicated/rt "I'm ready to be the sharp end of the spear in addressing this crisis."