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Lawmakers fight back against heroin epidemic
ALBANY -- Continuing work to loosen the grip on heroin. This week lawmakers will announce help for heroin addicts and their families. Addiction counselors and law enforcement have told us it's an epidemic. Not only are they trying to help those in need, but they're also trying to hit the dealers with tougher penalties.
Kate Gruhle turned her own story of struggle in to action. She is an intern at the Addictions Care Center in Albany and became an alcoholism and substance abuse counselor working with different organizations to educate the community. She says more treatment should be available to people like her own two children who have suffered through the addiction to heroin.
"These twenty-eight day programs which get cut back to fourteen or ten or five really aren't enough for someone who's addicted to heroin," Gruhle said.
"They need longer term treatment they need different phases of treatment. So many people who have decent insurance can't get their kids in to a program."
Lawmakers will be introducing legislation to make more recovery money available -- and hold convicted dealers more accountable. Senator Neil Breslin (D-Delmar) sponsors one of several bills to be announced. "The worst you could do now if you got a dealer who caused a death would be a four-year sentence," Breslin said. "That's going to turn in to manslaughter which means 25 years."
Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) chairs his house's health committee and sits on a joint task force on heroin addiction. He is also proposing legislation for insurance companies to more completely cover rehab services, and put "Narcan" in the hands of more than just first responders.
"The idea also is to make it more available to parents who know their child has an addiction," Hannon said. "They'll be fighting the addiction by trying to get treatment but they also want to make sure they can save their kids."
That drug saved Kate's daughter -- a new heroin user when she overdosed at a friend's house. "They used Narcan on her and I only found out about this very recently," she said. "It woke her up it brought her back to life. "I think Narcan should be in the hands of everyone who has the slightest possibility of being touched or near someone who is an addict."