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New York Lawmakers, Gov. Cuomo Announce New Plan To Combat Heroin Use

Heroin (file/credit: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images)

Heroin (file/credit: Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a tough new plan Wednesday to address the heroin problem in New York.

Just one day before the Legislative session ends, New York lawmakers struck a deal with Cuomo on a series of bills that take aim at the growing heroin crisis, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.

New York Lawmakers, Gov. Cuomo Announce New Plan To Combat Heroin Use

heroin1 New York Lawmakers, Gov. Cuomo Announce New Plan To Combat Heroin Use
Alex Silverman reports

The governor said the first step in dealing with the drug problem “is to admit the reality, right? Denial is not an option.”

And the reality is “New York has a much more aggravated problem than the rest of the country,” Cuomo said.

Considering heroin abuse often begins with prescription drugs, the agreement reached in Albany doubles the maximum sentence for doctors and pharmacists convicted of doling them out illegally.

Cuomo said the deal also makes it easier for addicts to seek help.

“There’ll be one standard definition of what is medically necessary so insurance companies frankly can’t play games and decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t get treatment,” he said.

The legislation also includes provisions to ensure the proper and safe use of naloxone and support for enhanced public awareness campaigns to prevent drug abuse.

“We will not accept a paradigm where rock stars and movie stars and a professional athlete are the only people worth saving,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Just last week the governor announced the addition of 100 investigators to the state police narcotics unit to combat the rise of heroin use. The move effectively doubles the size of the Narcotics Enforcement Team.

Cuomo said there were more than 89,000 cases of heroin and prescription treatment admissions in New York in 2013, up from 63,000 in 2004.

Experts said a crackdown on prescription drugs has pushed addicts to heroin, which is significantly cheaper and easier to obtain. Deaths from heroin overdoses in New York more than doubled from 215 in 2008 to 478 in 2012, according to the state Health Department.

Experts have said heroin from Mexico has flooded New York City, making Long Island a hot spot for distribution and usage.

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