By Assemblyman Will Barclay
There have been a number of reported overdoses due to heroin and other opioids in recent months. According to the Centers for Disease Control, among people 25 to 64 years old, drug overdose caused more deaths than motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2012. Drug overdose death rates have been rising steadily since 1992 with a 117% increase from 1999 to 2012 alone.
Statistics show that 89,358 New Yorkers were admitted into a treatment program in New York State for heroin or prescription opioid addiction in 2013. This is an increase of 40% from 2004, when 63,797 New Yorkers were admitted.
The U.S Drug Enforcement Administration published a report recently that states there has been a large increase in Mexican heroin production and traffickers expanding into the eastern and midwest U.S. markets.
According to data, the amount of heroin seized each year at the Southwest Border increased 232% from 2008 to 2012.
Another troubling statistic from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration states the number of Americans 12 and older who admitted using heroin in the last year more than doubled between 2003 and 2012 from 314,000 to 669,000.
In an attempt to discourage illicit drug use, the State Legislature passed a package of bills designed to combat heroin usage and strengthen our laws against drug dealers. The drug naloxone, which can counteract a heroin overdose, was made more readily available to police and ambulance personnel this year as well.
The state also increased its enforcement efforts and reportedly assigned 100 additional State Police investigators to crack down on heroin throughout the state.
While lawmakers can improve laws and police can enforce them, parents and caretakers also need to be educated about the dangers of addiction and to know the warning signs.
A new public education campaign called Combat Heroin was launched and can be found at http://www.combatheroin.ny.gov/
The site contains helpful information and personal stories designed to encourage others to learn about the dangers of heroin and addiction, and to reach out for help.
Experts say addicts typically deny their addictions and family or loved ones are usually the first to recognize the addiction.
The stories are sad and eye-opening on how heroin addiction not only impacts an addict but also the addict’s family. Hopefully this site gives families the resources needed to find help for their loved one.
Here are some warning signs to look for:
* Loss or change in appetite
* Missing spoons in the house, as heroin users often need these to create a high
* Missing jewelry or cash
* Decreased respiratory rate
* Small pupils
* Sudden change in friends, attitude toward home or school
* Avoiding contact with family
* Missing shoelaces or belts
There are a number of other resources on the site including information on treatment and tips on preventing addictions.
There’s also a hotline to call at 1-877-8-HOPENY that’s advertised on the website that anyone can call for help. To watch testimonies of families who lost loved ones to addiction or to learn about treatment options, visit www.combatheroin.ny.gov
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.