State Assembly Member Al Stirpe Continuing To Focus On Opioid Crisis
A Central New York Assembly-member from Cicero has been focused on getting legislation passed to address the ongoing opioid epidemic. Al Stirpe says the pandemic caused drug use to increase as people tried to cope with many mental health issues as a result of isolation, financial issues, and other hardships.
He describes the cold facts about the ongoing opioid crisis.
“We had made some progress between 2018 and 2019 and you saw the number of deaths going down, etc. Then COVID hit in 2020 a 156 opioid deaths in Onondaga County up from 127 in 2019.”
He hopes state legislation he either sponsored or supported to address the crisis combined with the State Attorney General’s $1.5 billion pharmaceutical settlement will help. The legislation creates targeted funding from the settlement for substance abuse treatment and education.
“It only gets spend on things that promote education that will teach people about opioid antagonists such as Naloxone and help teach people how to apply it.”
Stirpe also supported passage of a bill that prohibits courts from using Naloxone as evidence for drug possession charges.
Now, he wants people of loved ones struggling to keep it handy in case they witness an overdose.
“That’s saying that you’re there just to make sure that, if something happens, you can take care of that person and not necessarily meaning that you’re also using drugs.”
Naloxone and hypodermic needles are now sold at pharmacies, which Stirpe hopes will prevent future overdoses.
He adds that more than half of incarcerated people in the state are suffering from substance abuse disorders. Stirpe helped pass legislation that allows inmates with substance abuse issues to be treated with medication, so they’ll have a better chance of leading better lives once they’re released from prison.
“We wanted to make sure that all of them could go ahead and implement some of these programs. So, this tried to get them treatment while they’re in prison, get them off of these drugs and that gives them a much better chance, once they’re released from prison to start life over, again.”
He says the State budget also included $32
million to support MAT or Medicated Assisted Treatment programs and various opioid abuse treatment and prevention programs. For help with drug abuse the Office of Addiction Services and Supports can be reached by calling 1-877-8-HOPE NY.