Lawmakers gather at Capitol to discuss ways to combat heroin epidemic

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – State lawmakers and New York families gathered at the Capitol on Monday to discuss the ongoing heroin problem across the state.

It’s called an epidemic. Heroin addiction is more widespread than ever and is killing people across the country, including the Capital Region.

But there’s also a growing tide emerging against the wave of drugs flowing into the area. On Monday, members of the New York State assembly released a report on the roadblocks to treatment as well as some solutions.

Lawmakers stood alongside recovering addicts and parents. They all expressed what’s lacking when it comes to treating heroin addiction. The issue was detailed in a report compiled by the Assembly Minority Task Force on Heroin Addiction.

The first problem the report identified was a lack of insurance coverage for detox and treatment.

One recovering addict said he was told he had to prove that he had already failed outpatient treatment before he could be accepted into a residential facility.

Laurie Quinn, of Ghent, said she went through the same when she tried to get her son into detox.

“They refused him because he wasn’t withdrawing enough; he wasn’t sick enough,” she said. “And the solution was to send him home and wait for him to get sicker.”

Patricia Farrell lost her daughter Laree to heroin.

“I went upstairs, and she was passed away in her bed from a heroin overdose,” she said.

Farrell said her daughter relapsed several times, including once when her insurance ran out during treatment.

“She did not want to leave [treatment]. Twenty-eight days,” she said. “That was it. Done.”

Farrell agreed with what a lot of lawmakers had to say on Monday.

“The longer treatment, they want added time in detox,” she said. “Three days in detox – you’re not even through detox and then they are releasing you to the street.”

Members of the task force said they want to require OASIS, or the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, to provide programs to help families and addicts navigate through detox and treatment.

To pay for the programs, some suggested using state surplus, a portion of casino gambling fees, and re-evaluating asset forfeiture structure.

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