Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, the Chair of the New York State Assembly Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, held a public hearing on the growing heroin epidemic.
At the hearing, over a dozen concerned citizens ranging from doctors to counselors, voiced their concerns and presented testimony hoping to raise awareness and identify characteristics of the recent rise in heroin addiction.
Henry Bartlett, Executive Director of the Committee of Methadone Program Administrators of New York State was one of those who testified at the hearing. Mr. Bartlett stated that according to the United States Center for Substance Abuse, the average age that a person starts taking heroin has decreased from 27 years of age to 17 years of age in the last decade. Reasons for this include the fact that the purity level has gone up and prices have gone down, making heroin more accessible to drug users and more addictive as well.
Others testified about the links between heroin and other social misfortunes such as crime, disease and homelessness.
"As Chair of the Assembly Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, I am dedicated to fighting the war on drugs and raising awareness of the dangers of heroin addiction. Addiction can lead to so many other devastating conditions. Addicts often lose everything and turn to a life of crime while some become stricken with deadly illnesses. There is also a significant overlap among drug users, the homeless and those with mental health problems. It is one of my top priorities to ensure that sufficient funding remains allocated for the treatment and prevention of drug addiction," said Dinowitz.
The hearing was co-chaired by Assemblyman Joe Lentol, Chair of the Assembly Codes Committee.