ASAP, legislators call for $15M to curb opiate abuse

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
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— A state substance abuse association and several legislators are calling for $15 million in the 2014-15 budget to fund prescription drug recovery and treatment programs statewide.

From 1991 to 2010 the number of people who were consumers of prescription opiates increased by 40 million, according to the state Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers.

“You can buy a bag of heroin for less than what it costs for a pack of cigarettes,” said John Coppola, executive director of ASAP, during a news conference in Albany Tuesday. “We are asking our state Legislature and the governor to pass a budget that includes resources for treatment and recovery, which are necessary to combat this epidemic.”

Sen. Phil Boyle, R-Suffolk County, said he receives phone calls on a daily basis from parents and schools pushing for more resources to combat drug abuse. Boyle is chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

“We do what we can, but the fact is that we need to focus more and we need more funding,” Boyle said. “We need to tackle this problem immediately. There is no time to wait.”

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, D-Brooklyn, is urging the Assembly and the Senate to work together to gather funding for prevention, treatment and detox programs across the state.

“We find that these youngsters who cannot get prescription drugs find it much easier to get bags of heroin on the street,” said Cymbrowitz, chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. “This has become an exploding issue in New York.”

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services is looking to use the $15 million to enhance current programs in the state for drug prevention, treatment and recovery.

The not-for-profit substance abuse organization is one of the largest in the nation. The association’s push for more funding comes at the start of its annual advocacy day at the state Capitol.

“These are very great concerns,” said Sen. Kemp Hannon, R-Nassau County, chair of the Senate Committee on Health. “We know that they are there and that the misuses of opiate drugs are there. This is in all parts of the state, and we hope to move this forward and decrease these problems in New York.”

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