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Combating Heroin: Senate Task Force Releases Recommendations, Findings in New Report

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The New York State Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction on Wednesday released its 2017-2018 report, including 11 recommendations on ways the state should address the opioid crisis.

The committee’s findings follow dozens of hearings and forums held across the state, including one in Binghamton.

State Senator Fred Akshar and fellow co-chairs described the first-hand information from stakeholders as being critical to making recommendations.

“Today’s report is about New York getting real, tangible results in our fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic. We’ve made incredible progress over the past two years, but it was only made possible through traveling the state and meeting with advocates and families who’ve worked tirelessly for years at the ground level to reduce stigma and bring much-needed treatment services and resources to their communities.”

Even though recent numbers show a decline in opioid-related overdose deaths, the group says federal and state lawmakers should not look at cutting funding for programs and services, especially in rural and underserved regions.

The committee wants the state to create “Centers for Excellence on Substance Use Disorder” as a way to improve access to treatment in rural parts of the state. As well as increasing resources to healthcare workers trained to treat substance abuse disorders.

Other recommendations include reducing the cost of Naloxone and lowering the number of prescribed opioids by expanding health insurance coverage for medical marijuana and explore limiting the number days opioids can be prescribed to treat acute pain to three days instead of seven days.

The report also calls for tougher penalties for dealers who sell drugs that result in a fatal overdose.