May 30, 2014

Editorial: Respond now to drug problem

The New York State Legislature and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer are separately launching an urgently needed assault on the heroin problem in the nation, state and region.

The legislature will consider a package of 25 bills designed to fight this growing challenge. The bills would, among other things, limit the supply of some prescribed pain medication to 10 days, to combat addiction; and equip schools with drug antidotes, to respond to increasing overdoses.

The State Senate’s Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction calls the state’s problem “a terrible epidemic.” It conducted 18 forums across the state, including one in Plattsburgh, to gather evidence for writing the bills.

Schumer (D-NY) is urging fellow U.S. senators to include $100 million in the next budget, to be debated in the coming weeks, to combat use of illegal drugs in New York and around the nation. 

Schumer is asking for the money to be given to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program, called HIDTA. HIDTA was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. The current 28 HIDTAs include Clinton and Franklin counties.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy programs touches us locally with funding for the Plattsburgh Campus and Community Partnership and the Lake Placid/Wilmington Connecting Youth and Communities.

HIDTA provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law-enforcement agencies in areas determined to be high drug-trafficking areas.

We’ve heard a great deal lately about the massive rise in drug trafficking in the North Country, specifically heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. We’re told by law-enforcement officials and others that this region is attractive to drug pushers because the prices that narcotics can fetch are more attractive to them than in metropolitan areas.

According to figures from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, a third of primary treatment admissions in 2011 were for heroin abuse.

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