By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Two Bay Ridge lawmakers, each taking a separate tack, are seeking legislative ways to combat heroin and prescription drug problems among the community’s young people.
State Sen. Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis both said recent tragedies involving drug overdoses need to be addressed.
Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) announcing his vote to support of a bill that will add pharmacists to the law that charges individuals with a felony for filling out false controlled substance prescriptions.
Golden hosted a town hall last month with representatives from Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson’s office, the Dynamite Youth Coalition and the New York City Police Department in the wake of what the senator called “a significant number of deaths and overdoses” that have been reported throughout the Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights sections of his senate district.
“We must continue to be proactive in the war on prescription drugs, and heroin, so that we can save lives. Drugs continue to destroy families and threaten the quality of life of our neighborhoods. This legislation will send a direct message to medical personnel, and pharmacists, that we will not tolerate the false distribution of medication and prescriptions,” Golden said.
Malliotakis, meanwhile, is co-sponsoring two bills she said will help combat the problem of drug use.
The bills would establish an emergency overdose prevention pilot program and authorize the use of Naloxone, a drug used to counteract overdoses. Under the proposal, the New York State commissioner of health would make Naloxone available to up to 30 public high schools throughout the state and to train police officers upon request.
Naloxone is commonly referred to as a drug-overdose antidote because it is used to block the drug receptor and counteract the life-threatening depression of the central nervous and respiratory systems, Malliotakis (Bay Ridge-Staten Island) said. Since 2005, non-medical personnel have been authorized to administer Naloxone to prevent an opioid or heroin overdose from becoming fatal, she said.
“While heroin overdoses have been highlighted since the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the issue has been steadily on the rise for several years now,” said Malliotakis. “Establishing a pilot program will help emergency personnel adapt to increasing incidents of heroin overdose and prescription drug abuse. But we can only address this issue if we remain vigilant about this increased drug usage."
This year’s state budget includes $1 million in funding for opiate abuse treatment and prevention along with another $1 million for heroin prevention, treatment and recovery support systems.
Malliotakis also announced she will be working with members of the Assembly Minority Conference to convene a task force to study the issue. The task force is planning to visit New York City in coming months to gain input from the community.
The New York Post reported on April 7 that heroin use among New Yorkers has exploded and authorities have focused their attention on prescription drug traffickers.
The recent overdose death of Hoffman opened many people’s eyes to the fact that heroin addiction is not a problem relegated to the city’s back alleys, the Post reported.
“Oxycodone is becoming more difficult to get. It’s becoming easier to buy heroin,” James Hunt, acting special agent in charge of the New York office of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told the Post.
Hunt’s statement was similar to an observation Golden made in an interview with the Brooklyn Eagle in February about a rise in heroin use. Golden said the state’s crackdown on prescription drug abuse has led to more young people buying heroin. “We have ‘I-Stop’ and that has made it more difficult to get Oxycodone. As a result, the kids are moving to a cheaper drug, heroin,” he told the Eagle.