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Gov. Cuomo: "We have a Problem with Heroin and We are Going to Do Something About It."

Location: Albany, NY

"As you heard, the topic today is very serious. And, they say the first step in drug treatment--when someone goes to deal with a drug issue--the first step is admitting the problem. And, not denying it. And that's the first step for the collective, for the state, we have to admit the problem. This state has a serious problem with heroin, and it has been growing, and it is getting worse, and it is of epidemic proportions at this point. And it's disproportionate to the growth of heroin in the nation. We have about one third of all the heroin seizures in the country by the DEA, are done here in the New York area.

We've had, as the Superintendent mentioned, a problem with heroin in the past, in the 60s and the 70s.This is worse. Heroin is cheaper now than it was, they're selling it in 5 dollar bags, 10 dollar bags. It is more potent than it was, and it is more diverse than it was. Back in the 60s and 70s it was basically an inner-city problem, it is now more an affluent, suburban problem than it is an inner-city problem. So it has changed over the years and it has actually gotten worse, and it has actually gotten more prevalent. New York State, the rate of seizures of heroin, has gone up 67% in the past four years. Right here in Rockland, the number of admissions for heroin addiction has gone up 97% from 2004 to 2013, and the investigations on heroin have more than doubled during that period of time. So, denial is not an option, and denial is not a life strategy.

We have a problem, and we have a problem with heroin, and we are going to do something about it. And, what you hear today is a multi-pronged approach. We are going to deal with it on every level.

First, from an enforcement point of view, the New York State police who have been superb over this state's history in dealing with narcotics, we are going to give them the resources they need to make this fight. We are going to double the number of troopers who are assigned to the narcotics detail. We are adding 100 New York State troopers just to fight this heroin epidemic, and--we are going to be doing that forthwith.

From an education point of view, you've heard from the Chancellor. And, we are going to battle this in our college system: our SUNY system, our CUNY system, those are our public colleges, we're also going to make that information and training available to the private colleges because this is disproportionately a young person problem now and it's disproportionately a college age problem, so we are going to attack it in our education system.

Then, as an emergency response, the one good news that you didn't have back in the sixties and the seventies, is a drug called Narcan, they call it the anti-overdose drug. It can literally save lives if administered. It is highly effective in dealing with overdoses of heroine. That's if you have the drug and if you have a person that knows how to deploy the drug. So, we are going to be training first responders all across the state and we are going to be providing all first responders, EMT's, Police, Fire, with this drug Narcan, so they will be in a position to save lives. And, it actually has saved lives. So, between the enforcement activity, the education activity and the emergency responder activity, it will be a thorough and comprehensive approach. The last point though is probably the most important.

Government can help solve problems. But society makes a mistake when they say 'well, government will solve that.' Heroine is not a problem that law enforcement alone can solve. The troopers and the sheriffs and the DA's can't solve it. The teachers and the education system can't solve it. It's going to take all of us. And it still starts in the home and it starts with parents and it starts with friends and it starts with neighbors, and if you suspect a person has an issue, do something, do something. The same theory that denial is not a life strategy and you have to admit a drug problem before you can begin to resolve a drug problem is true. If you see someone, if you have a family member who you think is struggling, say something and do something. It's all about responsibility. That is the responsibility of the collective. We can do it together, we will make a difference and save lives and that's what today is all about. I thank you all very much for taking the time to be here. Thank you."

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