“We have to treat addicts like addicts, while keeping sentences harsh for dealers,” he said.
Seward will lead the Oneonta task force forum, and will be joined by state Sen. Phil Boyle, R-Suffolk, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and chairman of the special task force.
The recently enacted 2014-15 state budget included $2.45 million for initiatives to provide prevention, treatment and addiction services to address the growing problems of heroin and opiate abuse. In addition to the creation of the task force, the senate passed legislation in March authorizing health care professionals to increase public access to Narcan/Naloxone which, if administered in time, can prevent an overdose death, Seward said.
“It is important that we formulate a multi-prong strategy that will break the stranglehold heroin has on so many people in our society,” Seward said. The series of statewide forums, featuring a diverse group of stakeholders, will play a vital role as “we develop our line of attack against this growing epidemic.”