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Officials hold forum on heroin use

ALBANY -- Patty Farrell called heroin "a poison" while testifying before members of the New York State Senate, Tuesday.

Less than a week after a Shenendehowa student injected another with heroin, four members of the state senate held a hearing on the dangers of the drug. The hearing was scheduled before the incident at Shenendehowa, however many who testified referenced the boy who was charged by police.

No one died in the incident at the school, however several parents who testified Tuesday talked about losing children who overdosed on the drug.

Patty Farrell lost her 18 year-old daughter four months after she first tried the drug.

"She was beautiful and brilliant," Farrell said.

Hoping to prevent just one death, Farrell called on state senators to strengthen the laws in the state and impose longer prison sentences for those convicted of selling drugs to people who die from overdoses.

Currently the law charges such dealers with a lower level felony of criminally negligent homicide, however Farrell wants to see a tougher penalty that carries a prison sentence of at least 25 years, she said Tuesday.

The drug has become a statewide problem and is being sold in both the inner cities and the suburbs, said Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider.

"To say it is an inner city problem is not fair anymore," said Heider. "This is a suburban problem. We see it everyday. More and more of our arrests are for heroin. It's a problem that is truly widespread and in suburbia."

Part of the reason heroin is becoming more popular, especially with younger users, is the price. Compared to the cost of illegally sold prescription pills, heroin is much cheaper, said Heider.

The drug is also one of the most addictive on the market, Heider added.

"Once it grasps a hold of you, it is the only thing you want. It takes the place of food, it takes the place of love and affection. It takes away all your social barriers so you are not afraid to steal anything that is not nailed down in order to support your social habit." said Heider.