New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has released a new set of proposals on how the government can combat heroin and opioid drugs in the state.
The recommendations were based on the findings of the task force that Cuomo created to develop new ways to address drug addiction and overdoses.
Cuomo has called on doctors to limit their prescription of opioid medications to patients. He also urged the government to increase its funding for drug addiction treatments and provide better support for people who are trying to stay off their addictions.
The governor and state lawmakers are looking to pass a comprehensive approach to combating the growing drug use problem in New York before the State Legislature adjourns for the year.
Howard Zucker, New York's health commissioner, explained that the key to curbing the heroin and opioid abuse epidemic in the state is to tackle it from several different angles at once.
He said their goal is to keep New Yorkers from becoming addicted to illegal drugs in the first place, while also providing assistance and treatment to those who are already suffering from the cycle of drug abuse.
The State Legislature has already included $166 million to fund anti-heroin and opioid addiction programs in the previously passed budget for the state. The Cuomo government and lawmakers are now drafting a plan on how the budget should be spent.
Cuomo's announcement comes as state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli also released his report on the heroin and opioid addiction in New York.
DiNapoli said as many as 825 people in the state died because of heroin overdose in 2014, which is a 24 percent jump from figures recorded in 2013. This was based on the latest statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"While New York state and some local governments have taken important steps to reduce heroin and opioid abuse, the costs associated with this epidemic are growing and the health, safety and prosperity of our communities are at risk," DiNapoli pointed out.
In his report, DiNapoli stated New York is surpassed only by Massachusetts in the number of heroin-related overdose deaths and Connecticut for prescription opioid-related overdose deaths.
Suffolk County had the highest rates of overdose deaths in New York in 2014, when 111 people died of heroin abuse and 96 people died of prescription opioid abuse.
Monroe, Oneida, Orange and Suffolk are the counties that had the most number of heroin-related overdose rates, while Oneida, Orange, Erie and Staten Island are the places that had the highest rates of prescription opioid-related overdose deaths.