Jaffee Bill to Stem Female Substance Abuse Signed into Law

August 5, 2011

Albany – In the growing fight against substance abuse, New York women are getting a new ally now that the Governor has signed in to law legislation (A1078) sponsored by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) to provide medical professionals with tools to better diagnose those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.

“With this legislation in action, women and their families will no longer have to worry about the stigma associated with seeking help for substance abuse”, said Jaffee. “Women deserve the peace of mind knowing their health care providers are equipped with the knowledge necessary for diagnosis and treatment.”

Jaffee’s legislation will require the Commissioner of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, in consultation with the Commissioner of the Department of Health, to provide and publish educational materials for health care providers regarding the best practices for screening, assessment, and diagnosis of women for alcoholism and chemical dependency.

As chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues, Jaffee has closely followed the rising number of women suffering from alcohol and substance abuse. According to a recent study, there has been a 50% increase in the number of women reporting alcohol abuse in recent years. Furthermore, federal health researchers reported a staggering 84% of the annual average of the 6.3 million women aged 18 to 49 requiring treatment annually for substance abuse neither received treatment nor were perceived as needing it by medical professionals.

These alarming trends indicate a dire need for increased and improved education regarding the growing problem of female substance abuse. In light of this, Jaffee led the push for the advancement of this care-strengthening legislation, garnering near-unanimous bi-partisan support in both houses.

“I am hopeful this legislation will not only help women obtain more timely diagnosis and treatment, but also shed light on this pressing health issue”, said Jaffee. “Alcoholism and substance abuse have long been considered a disproportionately male problem. Unfortunately, the statistics reveal that women are equally likely to use and abuse. This bill will certainly aid in breaking the silence.”