Local treatment centers speak out on Gov. Cuomo’s proposals to fight heroin, opioid epidemic

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Governor Andrew Cuomo has made it a top priority to continue the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic in New York State.

The Albany County Sheriff’s Office has seen the path of destruction caused by the heroin and opioid epidemic.

“We’re just really fed up with having to go tell those families time and time again about what happened,” Sheriff Craig Apple said.

Apple said his office responds to a heroin overdose at least once a day. Some recover but many don’t.

Prescription pills can jumpstart the downward spiral of addiction.

“I’ve heard stories of people getting their wisdom teeth out and getting a boat load of painkillers attached to it when, in reality, maybe they only needed a couple,” Apple said.

That’s one angle Cuomo is tackling as he proposed a six-point plan in his State of the State.

The plan builds on new legislation signed in June to combat heroin addiction. The proposals aim to curb over prescribing as well as getting fentanyl and other synthetic opioids off the streets.

The plan would also eliminate prior authorization requirements from insurance companies.

Equinox in Albany now accepts walk-ins to immediately help people, but admitting them to inpatient care is sometimes blocked with insurance barriers.

“If the client doesn’t meet the criteria, we don’t get that authorization,” Joel Haynes, Equinox Mental Health counselor, said. “So the insurance companies will deny us, and then what do we do?”

Haynes said eliminating prior authorization requirements would help, but the relapse rate is at 75 percent. For that, Apple swears by the non-narcotic Vivitrol.

The 28-day prescription is an opiate blocker and is used in the Albany County Jail.

“You still need to partner up, and you still need to get treatment, and you’re going to be in recovery,” he said. “But as long as you stay on this, you can’t get high.”

Cuomo is also proposing the state’s first recovery high school to help teens battling addiction.

 

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