Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to allocate $1 million to help underserved areas of Upstate NY help struggling addicts and their families. The money will go to support what are being called “peer outreach programs”. These programs help addicts who wind up in emergency rooms for overdose and other substance abuse-related issues, as well as families looking to get their addicted loved ones help. The money will divided in to increments of $250,000 across four areas: the Southern Tier, Finger Lakes, North County and Western New York. Officials are describing the measure as one more step in the fight against statewide addiction.
It is not yet clear whether grants like the above will be gifted to Long Island and other areas of New York which have been so profoundly affected by drug and alcohol addiction. With surging rates of fatal heroin overdose and rampant drunk-driving fatalities, such additional funding would certainly be welcome. For now, however, it seems that it will remain the latest step in a strategic statewide plan to combat addiction in all plagued areas of the empire state. As a whole, New York has seen some of the highest rates of heroin and prescription opioid addiction.
Areas like Cayuga County have been battling what officials are calling an epidemic of drug addiction for years now. According to the Finger Lakes Drug Taskforce, heroin cases more than tripled from 2013 to 2014. Like other areas of the New York, officials are bewildered and overwhelmed by the seemingly sudden onset of fatalities. It is clear that more state funding and more institutional attention is needed to address this problem for the clear and present danger that it is. As the problem continues and increases, the onus is on the legislature, law enforcement and communities alike to come with proactive and realistic solutions.