In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in the abuse of the class of drugs known as opioids. Opioids are highly addictive pain-relieving drugs that include heroin and various prescription medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl. The opioid crisis has affected the State of New York and the entire nation; according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 115 Americans die each day after suffering opioid overdoses. While some individuals become addicted to opioids that have been prescribed and others become addicted to opioids that they obtain through illicit channels, the end result is deadly either way.
In an attempt to understand and offer solutions to this complex problem, the New York State Senate Majority Conference formed the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction in 2014. The Task Force is currently chaired by Sens. George A. Amedore, Jr. (R-Rotterdam), Fred Akshar (R-Colesville), and Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo). According to WICZ.com, the Task Force “has been traveling across the state [for two years] to collect data.” On February 6, 2018, the Joint Task Force held a public meeting in Binghamton to discuss the impact of heroin abuse upon communities in New York’s Southern Tier. Spectrum News reported that “[c]ommunity members shared their stories and [offered] possible strategies to tackle this issue.” The Task Force has scheduled similar meetings later this month in Pleasantville and Hudson, respectively.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms appreciates the efforts made by the Task Force to combat the opioid crisis. We respectfully encourage the Task Force to craft legislation that focuses on prevention, on increasing access to treatment, and on increasing penalties for drug traffickers.