By Forum Staff
The State Senate recently approved several pieces of legislation crafted to combat the opioid crisis and ensure greater intervention services for New Yorkers struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, according to Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), who co-sponsored two of the measures.
The first bill, which is co-sponsored by Addabbo, would require that death certificates issued in New York provide the name of the specific drug that was used when an opioid overdose is listed as the cause of death, and the person signing the document is certain of the substance involved.
Addabbo said that “this will provide important data regarding fatalities that are tied to specific substances, such as fentanyl, and allow for more informed public policy responses to the opioid epidemic.”
The second proposed law, also co-sponsored by Addabbo, would increase resources and arrange for additional training for healthcare providers to expand the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment program. Under this program, which has been used in New York emergency rooms, the senator said that healthcare professionals are taught to assess and provide treatment to patients for possible life-threatening substance use and abuse disorders.
“Under this legislation, the use of SBIRT would be expanded to primary care settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and private physician offices,” Addabbo explained.
A third piece of legislation would enable family members and others who are already authorized to receive medical information about a patient to be notified when a patient treated in a chemical-dependence program or facility demonstrates symptoms of a relapse, such as missing appointments or failing drug tests.
“Known as ‘Stephen’s Law,’ this proposal is named after a young man who was struggling with substance abuse and subsequently died after failing a urine test,” said Addabbo. “Had [Stephen Canastraro’s] family been notified about this incident, or Stephen’s missed appointments with his drug treatment provider, they might have been able to intervene and save his life.”
Having passed the Upper Chamber, the death certificate legislation is now under review by the Assembly Committee on Health. The other two bills are being considered by the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Addabbo noted.