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Cuomo Pledges $200 Million To Fight Addiction Amid Opioid Epidemic

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Officials in New York are pledging $200 million to fight opioid addiction running rampant in the state, including with 24-hour treatment centers and a high school for recovering addicts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to dedicate the money to combating the opioid epidemic, which claimed 2,431 lives in 2015 in the state. His budget calls for a recovery high school and a number of 24/7 treatment centers, though it is so far vague on specific implementation of such funds, reports WHEC.

It would also revamp the prescription monitoring program in New York, which experts say is key to reducing patient doctor shopping and reducing illicit black market sales. Victims of the opioid epidemic welcome the extra funding, but are not sold on whether it will yield any material benefits.

“My question is how much are we actually going to get in Rochester, and is it going to directly go towards anything that matters?” Rocco Stagnitto, a resident who lost his son to a heroin overdose, told WHEC. “You know you always hear about those stories about losing a kid. When it actually happens, it is emptiness and a pain that you can’t — there’s just no word for it.”

Private insurance claims for opioid abuse and dependence shot up an alarming 1,459 percent between 2007 and 2014 across Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties, which represents roughly 21 percent of the state population.

“The opioid crisis is substantial and growing; continued focus should be on both prevention and treatment strategies,” Robin Gelburd, president of FAIR Health, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “It has been reported widely that many individuals initially affected by opioid dependence substitute heroin when opioids become too expensive or their access to the opioids is restricted.”

New York experienced a 135.7 percent increase in synthetic opioid and heroin deaths between 2014 and 2015, one of the largest increases for a state.

A record 33,000 Americans died from opioid related overdoses in 2015, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid deaths contributed to the first drop in U.S. life expectancy since 1993 and eclipsed deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 2015.

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