In New York and across the United States, opioid addiction has become a crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdoses accounted for 70,237 deaths in the U.S. in 2017. Two-thirds of those deaths were opioid-related. Opioids do not just take a toll on adults; they also take a toll on babies who are born with opioid withdrawal symptoms. As the number of opioid-addicted adults has increased, so has the number of infants suffering from opioid withdrawal (also known as neonatal abstinence syndrome). Those infants need specialized medical care.
Bill S.1409-Rivera would respond to the needs of infants suffering from opioid withdrawal by creating an infant recovery centers pilot program. Under this legislation, the New York State Department of Health would open at least four recovery centers across the state for infants suffering withdrawal symptoms. The sponsor’s memo asserts that these centers would provide specialized care to infants suffering withdrawal, assist parents as they prepare to bring their babies home, and alleviate overcrowding at hospitals. The bill would also require the Department to report to the Legislature on the effectiveness of the program.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms supports Bill S.1409-Rivera. This important legislation passed the Senate in 2019 and 2020, but has not yet passed the Assembly. It is hoped that this bill will become law in 2021, providing vulnerable infants whose young lives have been damaged by maternal opioid use with the care that they need to survive and thrive.