As overdose deaths rise across the country and in New York to historic levels, state lawmakers in Albany are considering ways of easing the path to addiction recovery.
The Democratic-led Assembly on Monday approved a bill meant to create new transportation services for people who are facing addiction and in need of treatment.
The measure, if given final approval, would provide in-patient, residential and outpatient services for people to travel to treatment. The proposal would include at least one rural and one urban "demonstration" program run by the state.
“Our state and, indeed, our nation are still fighting a huge addiction epidemic, whether it be opioids, alcohol or gambling, so to provide an easier method of access to those afflicted is a good feeling,” Republican Assemblyman John Lemondes said. “It’s a multi-faceted challenge that we legislators continue to navigate, and while this bill doesn’t solve every problem, I believe it offers some relief to those who need it most. It’s the passage of bills like these that make me glad to be a representative and fight for the people.”
The bill now heads to the state Senate.
New York has seen a sharp rise in overdose-related deaths coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of those overdoses have been attributed to opioids and fentanyl, which have become more prevalent on the illicit drug market. At the same time, the rise in overdoses has been part of a growing concern over "deaths of despair" during the pandemic.