White House drug policy director in Albany: Heroin epidemic is public health epidemic

June 02, 2016 06:14 PM

The White House sent Michael Botticelli, its director of drug control policy, to Albany to talk about the heroin epidemic. Speaking to reporters before a public forum, Botticelli said the heroin epidemic is worse than the worst drug crisis in U.S. history.

"I would go further than that. I would say this is one of the worst public health epidemics we have ever seen," said Botticelli.

In 2014, nearly 29 thousand died in the US from heroin overdoses.  The state health department put out statistics a couple weeks ago showing an increase opioid abuse.  In New York, about two people die every day from heroin overdoses. That's up 30 percent from 2009

Botticelli pushed Congress to approve 1.1 billion dollars of funding that President Obama wants for treatment, prevention, and recovery.

After the democrats press conference hosted by Congressman Paul Tonko (D-Amsterdam), we asked Republican Congressman Chris Gibson how much money he wants to see put towards the crisis.

"Anywhere from 750 million to over a billion," said Gibson, R-Kinderhook. "One thing's for sure. More money is coming. It's really incumbent on us we spend it wisely."

What's the state doing? The senate passed a huge bill package to combat heroin. But nothing has become law.

Governor Cuomo's heroin task force is late in delivering results. Cuomo had said it would give him recommendations by June first.  Hochul is on that task force and says recommendations will be done in a few days.

"There's a lot of people. And family members I know well. Who did not intend to be addicts. They're accidental addicts. And that is the difference between the crisis of the 60s, 70s, and what I worked on with crack cocaine," said Hochul.

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Hochul promised a bill package by the end of session on June 16.  Lieutenant Governor Hochul wouldn't comment on what those recommendations would be.


Asa Stackel

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