ALBANY -- New York wants to create two "recovery" high schools for young people suffering from substance abuse.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday he would propose legislation to start the schools, one in downstate and one in upstate, to help high-school students recovering from addiction.
"Virtually all youth in recovery reported being offered drugs their first day back at school," Cuomo's office said in a news release.
"Recovery schools are 'schools within school' where students in recovery can learn in a substance-free and supportive environment and have proven to be an effective model to help youth in recovery stay healthy and graduate."
The measure was part of a six-point plan the Democratic governor unveiled Tuesday in the state's ongoing effort fight heroin abuse.
Open to students
The state Office for Alcoholism and Substance Abuse would partner with local social service agencies to establish the two schools.
The measure, which would need approval from the state Legislature, would allow Boards of Cooperative Educational Services to submit proposals to the alcoholism office start the schools.
"Enrollment will be open to all high school students with a diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder and a commitment to recovery," the state said.
Overall, Cuomo said his plan would focuses on prevention, treatment and recovery and builds upon laws he and Legislature put in place last June to fight the crisis.
"New York has made great strides in combating the devastating epidemic of heroin and opioid addiction, but this crisis continues and we must continue to do everything in our power to combat each facet of this complex health emergency," the governor said in a statement.
The first point in the plan would be to make all substance-abuse treatments more available to New Yorkers by no longer requiring them to be in inpatient programs or have prior authorization by their insurance to receive treatment.
The proposal would allow patients to receive treatment in outpatient programs such as group counseling and behavioral intervention.
To combat use of fentanyl analogs, a synthetic opioid, the second point of the plan would add the analogs to the state’s list of controlled substances, subjecting users to criminal drug penalties.
Currently, the synthetic opioid is not included on the state’s schedule of controlled substances because their chemical makeup is only slightly different than their illegal counterparts.
Fentanyl is now commonly used as part of a mix for heroin, creating potentially deadly outcomes for users.
Fighting doctor shopping
In another proposal, the Democratic governor said healthcare providers should be able to prescribe buprenorphine treatment for abusers, which is a safe and effective method for treating opioid addiction.
Cuomo said the state Department of Health will soon offer regional training for providers and increase the number of locations where the treatment is available.
The state also wants to create crisis treatment centers that are open 24 hours a day, and the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services would develop 10 centers, one for each of the state’s regions.
To fight doctor shopping -- patients going to different doctors to get prescription drugs -- Cuomo proposed a law that would require emergency department prescribers to check the state's prescription-drug registry before prescribing controlled substances to their patients.