As New York welcomes the New Year, residents are also preparing to welcome a series of new laws that address a variety of important issues, including minimum wage, healthcare and substance abuse. Among the more notable laws in the newly arrived package are those that improve access to addiction treatment. The empire state has passed the latest in a series of recent laws to fight the surge of heroin and opioid addiction within its borders. These latest measures remove artificial barriers that prevented New Yorkers from receiving the help they need and put into place new safeguards to get these drugs off the street.
Specifically, one law ends the requirement or prior insurance approval for addicts to immediately enter an inpatient facility–an obstacle that lawmakers and prevention advocates, alike, say is a common roadblock to treatment. There are other laws associated with medical treatment for opioid addition that also go into effect, such as requiring insurers to pay for medicine to treat substance abuse in emergency situations and expanding access to naloxone — a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose. Other measures call for increased training of Narcan deployment for law enforcement and ordinary, everyday citizens.
Every victim of opioid addiction deserves quality treatment, and it looks as though black-letter law is finally starting to reflect that philosophy. Expanding on last year’s commitment to curtailing heroin and opioid abuse within the state, it would appear that the New York legislature is coming out swinging in 2017. In a year in which fentanyl caused opioid overdose rates to skyrocket, this level of intervention has never been more welcome. While this problem is not likely to be resolved overnight, and has indeed taken years to diagnose and incrementally treat, we can accelerate the process of opioid addiction prevention by putting more institutional weight behind its mobilization.