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N.Y. Gov. Hochul signs bills to reduce overdoses, make naloxone more accessible

The bills decriminalize syringes and create an online directory for the distribution of opioid antagonists


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Erik Bascome
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — New legislation signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday aims to combat the opioid epidemic by reducing overdose deaths and encouraging recovery for New Yorkers struggling with addiction.

“Addiction can impact any family, suddenly and harshly — those who find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle are there through no fault of their own,” Hochul said. “This is a personal battle for me and I am proud to be able to combat the opioid crisis by signing these bills into law.”

Hochul signed five bills into law, the first of which decriminalizes the possession of opioid antagonists, like naloxone, in an effort to prevent drug overdoses.

The second establishes a program for medication assisted treatment for incarcerated New Yorkers suffering from substance abuse disorders, in hopes off reducing the likelihood they suffer an overdose upon leaving prison.

The third bill decriminalizes the possession and sale of hypodermic needles and syringes.

“The act of decriminalizing drug-related paraphernalia contributes to public safety by permitting harm reduction approaches for those suffering from substance use disorder and by reducing the rate at which HIV and hepatitis are transmitted,” according to the governor’s press release.

Another bill will create an online directory for distribution of opioid antagonists, like naloxone, in an effort to make the life-saving medication more easily accessible for New Yorkers.

The final bill expanded the number of crimes that can be considered for substance abuse treatment programs instead of incarceration. It also updates the term “substance abuse” to “substance use.”

“There is no shame in seeking help for substance use and I want to let all New Yorkers know that we are here for you. Treatment should always be accessible for those who need it,” Hochul said.

(c)2021 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.