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Governor’s plan for tackling New York’s opioid addiction problem

Posted on 09-08-16 in Advocacy, Substance Abuse

Governor’s plan for tackling New York's opioid addiction problem

In June, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a package of bills aimed at stemming his state’s opioid addiction problem. Noting that opioid overdoses had escalated in recent years, Cuomo said, “New York is leading the way forward in the fight against heroin and opioid addiction, and with this legislation, we are taking an affirmative stand for our families and communities who have suffered from this epidemic’s debilitating effects.”

Legislation to increase, decrease and ensure

The State Senate created the Heroin and Opioids Task Force two years ago to deal with the rising opioid and painkiller epidemic. The Task Force drafted the package, which lays out steps to:

  • Decrease opioid prescriptions to seven days. Current opioid prescriptions are for 30 days or longer. The average time elapsed between a first opioid painkiller prescription and an overdose death is 31 months. Decreasing the average opioid prescription to one week will decrease the likelihood a person will become addicted
  • Increase treatment beds by 270
  • Increase the number of program slots for substance abuse treatment by 2,335
  • Eliminate the preauthorization requirement for substance abuse treatment. Individuals who must wait days or even weeks to receive approval for treatment often change their minds. It is imperative anyone seeking treatment be admitted as quickly as is possible
  • Ensure insurance companies pay for the first 21 days of rehab. Another hurdle for many seeking treatment is money.
  • Require physicians to complete prescriber education on pain management in an effort to reduce unnecessary opioid prescriptions

NY’s opioid issues by the numbers

In its “2015 Report to the Governor and New York State Legislature,” the New York State Department of Health disclosed alarming statistics regarding opioid use in the Empire State:

  • There were over 2,000 drug-related deaths in 2013 – a 40 percent bump over 2009
  • Heroin was involved in 29 percent of drug-related deaths in 2013 compared to 16 percent in 2009
  • Opioid-related emergency room visits increased 73 percent from 2010 to 2014
  • In 2014, 42 percent of the 280,000 plus admissions to New York State certified substance abuse treatment programs listed ‘any opioid’ as the main, secondary or tertiary drug problem – a 19 percent bump over 2010

Suffolk County, where Cuomo signed the bill, has the highest number of overdoses statewide. Suffolk and nearby Nassau reported over 300 opioid-related deaths in 2014 – an 88 percent increase from 2003.

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Republican, represents East Northport in Suffolk County. Flanagan was present at the signing and said, “This is a plague and a scourge that affects every single family, every single day, no matter what we do.”

Governor’s plan for tackling New York's opioid addiction problem

Sovereign Health treats a multitude of behavioral health problems, including opioid addiction. During the intake process, our clinicians conduct a thorough physical and psychological assessment of the patient. This assessment forms the blueprint for a treatment plan specific to the patient’s needs. Addiction is a disease of the body and the mind. At Sovereign Health, we understand that treating only the physical effects of addiction addresses half the problem. We explore the underlying psychological factors that fuel the compulsion. Contact our 24/7 helpline for more information.

About the author:

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health. He worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at