Heroin Epidemic: State Lawmakers Want Changes to Narcan Laws


ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. -- The growing use of heroin and heroin-related deaths is a growing problem in Western New York. Buffalo police responded to eight overdoses in just a few hours Thursday, and that's just in the city.

As for why this is a problem, lawmakers and those in the medical field say the reasons are two-fold - prescription meds and protecting those who overdose.

Jodie Altman with Kids Escaping Drugs said, "It starts with the prescriptions and they turn to heroin because of the painful withdrawal and the expense."

Altman said, "We need to stop talking and we need to start doing. We need to realize that giving Narcan isn't enough."

Since Erie County started Narcan training, 3,000 Narcan kits have been given out. The two-dose kits cost up to 80 dollars; the kits are paid for by the state.

The Good Samaritan Law gives legal protection to the person who has overdosed when first responders use Narcan. The law protects addicts against criminal charges and prosecution for possession of drugs.

New York State Senator Robert Ortt said, "There's no question Narcan saves lives and that it is an important tool, but it can't just be this "get out of jail free card" that allows people to continue to abuse heroin. It has to be the first step in saving a life and get the person the treatment that they need."

Ortt, who is a co-chair of a Heroin Task Force, wants to see changes to the law that would require addicts who receive Narcan to go to treatment.

Ortt would also like to see more funds be provided to law enforcement to go after drug dealers and create restrictions to make sure doctors are not overprescribing prescription drugs.

Altman said, "I am a strong advocate at this point for 72 hour hold. So that if law enforcement has to step in and use Narcan, they automatically then take this person to the hospital, equipped with addiction people to hold them and do an evaluation to make a recommendation."


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