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Gov. Hochul signs several bills to help fight opioid crisis

The bills aim to improve public health and provide more access to treatment for people suffering from addiction.

NEW YORK — Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a group of legislation that will work to fight the opioid crisis on Thursday.

The legislation is meant to reduce drug-related overdose deaths across the state and encourage people suffering from addiction to seek help in their recovery.

"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. 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."

A total of five bills were signed. The first decriminalizes possession of opioid antagonists, which are drugs that block opioids by attracting opioid receptors without activating them.

The next bill aims to create a program that assists people who are incarcerated at state and local correctional facilities with a medication assisted substance use disorder treatment.

A third bill decriminalizes having or selling hypodermic needles and syringes, which would aim to reduce the rate at which HIV and hepatitis are transmitted.

Another bill would create an online directory for distributors of opioid antagonists to make them more accessible. The directory would be managed by the Office of Addiction Services and Support on their website. 

The last piece of legislation allows for a judge to order treatment for an individual rather than incarceration by expanding the number of eligible crimes that are considered for diversion to a substance use treatment program.