First round of dates scheduled for Yorktown, Rochester, Lewiston and Albany
The New York State Senate today announced the schedule for the first round of forums being held by the bipartisan joint Senate task force on heroin and opioid addiction. The task force will meet in Yorktown, Rochester, Lewiston, Albany and additional communities to examine the issues created by increased heroin abuse that is causing hundreds of deaths in communities across the state.
The task force is co-chaired by Sen. Robert Ortt (R-C-I-North Tonawanda, chairman of the Senate committee on mental health), Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-C-I, Yorktown) and Sen. George A. Amedore, Jr. (R-C-I, Rotterdam, chairman of the Senate committee on alcoholism and drug abuse). The forums will provide an opportunity for senators to solicit input from stakeholders and experts, and use the information collected to develop recommendations for legislative action.
"Communities across New York state are no stranger to opiate and heroin overdoses," Ortt said. "One life lost to this dangerous epidemic is one too many. These forums will help us devise a comprehensive plan that provides solutions for those struggling with substance use and their families. The discussions will allow the task force to collect and process important information from victims, family members, law enforcement and medical professionals in order to better our community and, most importantly, save lives."
Ortt's camp said recent opiate statistics show a pressing and urgent need to find a solution to this statewide epidemic. Deaths in New York from opiate overdoses are increasing, with 34 suspected opiate deaths in Erie County so far this year - 13 of which occurred in just one recent week. And in New York City, the most recent statistics available showed that, for the second straight year, heroin deaths surpassed homicides with 420 people dying from heroin overdoses compared to 335 homicides in 2013.
The first four forums are being held this spring and will be followed by additional forums in other communities this fall. Locally, the group will meet from 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, May 7, at Niagara University's Dunleavy Hall, Room 127, 5795 Lewiston Road.