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Heroin making a devastating comeback in New York City

Epidemic Heroin Use
Epidemic Heroin Use
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders reached an agreement on combating the rise of heroin use across New York State. The legislation called "Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction demonstrates an effort to confront a crisis facing the State of New York, Heroin addiction is devastating and deadly, in his role as Chairman of the Senate's Joint Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction is taking decisive action to ensure treatment for those affected and to give law enforcement the tools needed to get heroin and opioids off the streets.

"Heroin has become a public health crisis in communities across the nation, but today New York State is taking a stand to turn the tide on this epidemic," Governor Cuomo said. "This legislation builds on actions that we have already initiated by strengthening our laws, improving treatment supports, instituting tougher penalties for traffickers, and training first responders and other emergency or law enforcement personnel in how to use a life-saving anti-overdose medicine. I am proud that we are rolling out this comprehensive and thorough response at a time when NewYorkers need it most, and I thank the many advocates, community leaders and elected officials who have made this day possible."

This new legislation has come at a time were economic woes and drug use has made a collation and law enforcement has seen a scourge that needs to be addressed in varies ways. The rise in the use of heroin and opioid addiction is a health and safety threat.

The provisions of this legislation happen to be very detailed specific on cracking down the distribution of heroin, opioids and illegal prescription drugs.

Broome County Executive Debbie Preston said, "Heroin has become the drug of choice and is becoming more deadly than any other drug we've seen, especially to our young people. I applaud New York State for recognizing the problem and taking steps to not only improve access to treatment, but also to crack down on doctors and pharmacists who illegally sell opioid pills, which could lead to even more people getting addicted to heroin."

The knowledge of what heroin use can do is very clear, heroin is highly addictive and users represent a variety of ages, races and other backgrounds. Fatal overdose, the contraction of Hepatitis C and / or HIV and addiction and dependence are among a host of negative effects that will result from heroin use. It isn't just a physical danger but puts a strain on personal relationships, such as family, friendships and professional relationships.

Back in 2013 there were 89,269 cases of heroin and prescription opiate treatment admissions in New York State, an increase from 63,793 in 2004.

There are four new penalties in the legislation that is aimed at cracking down on the distribution.

  1. Increases the penalties for the criminal sale of a controlled substance by a pharmacist or practitioner by making the crime a class C felony.
  2. Adds the "criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance or of a controlled substance by a practitioner or pharmacist" as designated offense for purposes of obtaining eavesdropping warrants as well as adding the offense as a "criminal act" for the purposes of prosecuting Enterprise corruption cases. These small but significant reforms will give law enforcement and prosecutors that involving the distribution of controlled substances, as well as empower law enforcement to further prosecute organized activity related to prescription drug trafficking in New York State.
  3. Creates a new crime in the penal code of "fraud and deceit related to controlled substances" to crack down on doctor shopping, criminalizing behavior by those individuals who obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription by misrepresenting themselves as a doctor or pharmacist, or presenting a forged prescription.
  4. Grants the Department of Health (DOH)' s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement expanded access to criminal histories to aid its investigations of rogue prescribers and dispensers.
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