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Local News

April 16, 2014

Local forum to focus on heroin epidemic

The growing local, state and national problem of heroin use will be the focus of an upcoming forum in Oneonta.

State Sen. James L. Seward, R-Milford, announced Tuesday that he will be hosting a local meeting of the Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid (opiate) Addiction on April 28. It will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Hunt Union Ballroom at the State University College at Oneonta.

“Heroin use has reached epidemic proportions,” Seward said. “Lives are being lost, our public healthcare system is being overburdened, and law enforcement resources are being stretched thin. Heroin is infiltrating all social, economic, and geographic sectors of our state, and we need to take definitive action to halt this ugly trend.”

Seward’s forum is one of 12 being held around the state to gather information with the goal of coming up with solutions by the end of the legislative sessions in June, Seward said.

The forum, that will focus on heroin, will bring together local experts dealing with all facets of the issue. Experts in substance abuse and treatment, law enforcement, municipal officials, and individuals personally affected by heroin and opioid abuse will offer testimony. The public will also have an opportunity to express their views and offer real-life examples of the damages caused by drug abuse.

The rise in heroin use and the deadly effects of the drug are well documented, Seward said. A 2012 federal survey on drug use and health reported that the number of people who said they used heroin in the past 12 months rose from 373,000 people in 2007 to 669,000 people in 2012.

Julie Dostal, executive director of the LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addiction, said the recent increase is so new that her statistics don’t yet reflect it, but she knows that will soon change.

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