Santabarbara Passes Package of Bills to Combat Heroin Crisis by Strengthening Prevention, Education, Treatment

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara on Friday voted to pass a series of bills that tackle the heroin crisis affecting communities across Upstate New York by strengthening prevention measures, improving education, and providing better access to treatment.

“For too long, families across New York State and the entire nation have been torn apart by addiction and the heroin epidemic that has rapidly escalated, and our families in Upstate New York have not been immune,” Santabarbara said. “To see our families lose loved ones to addiction is heartbreaking, which is why it was important to ensure the passage of this package of legislation to address an issue that touches so many lives in our community.”

Santabarbara, a sponsor of these bills, said the legislation takes steps to combat the heroin crisis by educating doctors and people who are prescribed opioids on the risks of addiction and preventing the risk for misuse by limiting the amount of opioids prescribed and further requiring coverage for inpatient care (A.10727). The legislation requires pharmacists to provide important information on the risks associated with drug addiction and abuse, availability of treatment and prescription disposal options while also setting a seven-day limit on a patient’s first prescription of opioid medication for acute pain.

The legislation also expands access to addiction treatment. One measure increases the maximum time an individual incapacitated by drugs or alcohol can spend in a treatment facility for detoxification services from 48 to 72 hours and requires those facilities to take more steps to ensure patients are connected with treatment after they detox (A.10725). It also requires insurers to provide five days of coverage for withdrawal treatment and eliminates the need for prior authorization by managed care companies for drugs used to treat opioid dependence.

In addition, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) will extend the heroin and opioid addiction wraparound services program for an additional two years and identify best practices for these services.

Another piece of legislation will allow social workers and certain other licensed professionals to administer Narcan – a drug used to counteract an opioid overdose – in an emergency (A.10726). It would also require the state to issue quarterly reports on overdoses and Narcan use by county, and require hospitals to implement discharge planning for patients who abuse drugs or are prone to drug addiction.

“These measures – along with increased funding provided in this year’s budget to fight this addiction crisis – will help provide life-saving prevention, treatment and recovery services for our local communities,” Santabarbara said.

This year’s budget also included $25 million in new funding for the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to implement a Heroin and Opiate Treatment Prevention Package and an additional $2 million to support Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialists in order to continue providing programming in schools. There is also $1 million allocated to the Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct drug collection programs.