November 19, 2019

Speaker Heastie Creates Task Force on Examining Socio-Economic Responses to People with Substance Use Disorders to Help Address the Opioid Crisis in New Yorkers

Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal today announced the creation of the Assembly Task Force on Examining Socio-Economic Responses to People with Substance Use Disorders. The task force will hold hearings to receive recommendations on how to address the opioid epidemic and the impacts of substance use disorders on those that suffer from the disorder, their support system and communities. Additionally, in June of this year, the Assembly Majority allocated $1 million to substance abuse and rehabilitation service providers throughout the state, including support to promote the certification of peer recovery professionals.

"Substance use disorders and the opioid crisis have touched every community in New York State, and have devastating impacts on everything from an individual's health to their family's financial stability to the workforce of our state," Speaker Heastie said. "This task force will help the Assembly Majority better understand the complicated issues surrounding substance use disorders, and craft policies that can help save the lives and livelihoods of New Yorkers."

The task force will include:

The opioid crisis has had a devastating impact on the lives of New Yorkers, and the Assembly Majority has fought to support and fund important initiatives to aid those who struggle with substance use disorders. This task force will hold hearings across the state to explore many facets of substance use disorders, including ways to prevent the disorders, barriers to accessing and utilizing treatments, and the effects on those that suffer from substance use disorders and their support system.

The impacts of substance use disorders extend beyond treatment and recovery options for individuals. These hearings will take testimony from stakeholders and experts to gather more information on the wide ranging societal consequences of substance use disorders, such as employee absenteeism and the availability of skilled labor, as well as the financial instability created for individuals and families.

"In my role as chair of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, I have seen how the lack of access to supportive services statewide has allowed the opioid epidemic to relentlessly ravage communities. But, it's not just the lack of supportive services that makes it hard for people to heal," Assemblymember Rosenthal said. "New York State's treatment and recovery apparatus is built around old notions about substance use that continue to dangerously criminalize and stigmatize substance use. The persistent misconceptions about addiction and the people who struggle to overcome it make it much harder for people to get well. When people fear that they will lose their home, their job, their children or all three if they seek treatment, they are much less likely to do so. This task force will help us identify ways to remove the barriers to treatment and help get people well."

"Opioid addiction does not discriminate, impacting New Yorkers of all ages, races, and genders across the state," said Assemblymember Gottfried, chair of the Health Committee. "This task force will help us tackle this epidemic, guided by the insight of stakeholders and experts in the field, as we work to break down barriers preventing access to care and services."

"I am proud to be a part of the Task Force on Examining Socio-Economic Responses to People with Substance Use Disorders," said Assemblymember Gunther, chair of the Mental Health Committee. "Addiction and substance use disorders are terrible diseases with devastating impacts on families and communities and are compounded when those with a mental illness are affected by a substance use disorder. I look forward to taking testimony from stakeholders and experts, and helping to find effective, lifesaving legislative solutions."

"The State Assembly has been at the forefront of the fight against the opioid crisis. Under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie, we've broadened health benefits, expanded treatment and changed the way we look at drug abuse from criminal to the disease that it is. Speaker Heastie's creation of this task force is a clear statement that even though we've done a lot, there is work to do, more hearts and minds to change and more lives to save. I am honored to be a part of this effort with my colleague Linda Rosenthal, a relentless advocate for increased access, affordable care and better outcomes," said Assemblymember Cahill, chair of the Insurance Committee.

"This task force is an important tool that will help us combat the horrors of the opioid epidemic," said Assemblymember Ramos. "Far too many families have been left devastated by substance use disorder. I have worked hard to find legislative solutions to address the opioid epidemic and support those struggling with addiction, and I look forward to continuing that work with my colleagues on this new task force."

"It is important that we address the opioid crisis head-on to help our fellow New Yorkers get the help they need and deserve," said Assemblymember Hevesi, chair of the Social Services Committee. "Not only will these hearings help us address the aftermath of the opioid epidemic, which can drastically affect the financial stability of New Yorkers, it will also allow us to develop policies aimed at preventing disorders from occurring in the first place."

"The number of New Yorkers affected by substance use disorder is staggering," said Assemblymember Crespo, chair of the Labor Committee. "Nearly everyone knows someone who has been affected by the opioid crisis, making it more critical than ever for collaborative thinking and holistic approaches. We must focus on prevention, treatment and recovery to address the far reaching effects of this epidemic on our families, our communities, our workforce and beyond."

"This task force will be extremely beneficial to New Yorkers," said Assemblymember Weprin, chair of the Correction Committee. "It is important that we take the necessary steps to examine solutions to bring victims of these drugs to a road of recovery. I am glad to be a part of this is important step in fighting the opioid epidemic."

"The opioid crisis has touched the lives of countless Americans, and that is why it is more important than ever that we work together to develop meaningful solutions to address the challenges New Yorkers are facing," said Assemblymember Hunter. "I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to focus on prevention, treatment and recovery."

"The opioid epidemic is taking a tragic toll on families in Suffolk County and in communities across the state," said Assemblymember Jean-Pierre. "Together, I hope that my colleagues and I on this task force will be able to craft important legislation that will save lives and help those struggling with addiction and substance use disorder as well as their families, and ensure that those working on the front lines in the medical community get the tools and resources they need."

"In every corner of the state, New Yorkers are grieving the loss of their loved ones to overdose and addiction," said Assemblymember Fernandez. "It is clear that addiction knows no bounds, and that we will need to put our heads and resources together to put an end to this horrific public health crisis."

"There is not a single part of our state that has not been touched by opioid crisis and the Bronx is no exception," Assemblymember Joyner said. "I am incredibly proud to be a part of this task force to help fight against this epidemic and break the cycle of addiction."

"Substance use disorders have torn families and communities apart," said Assemblymember DenDekker. "And we have not provided adequate services for substance abuse recovery and rehabilitation. I want to spread the message that treatment and recovery works, and to provide the necessary resources for New Yorkers. I am proud to join this Task Force, and I am committed to making sure people suffering from substance use disorders and their families get the help they need."