Updated: 06/11/2014 11:18 PM
Created: 06/11/2014 10:43 PM WHEC.com
By: Rachel Spotts
New York State is stepping up to fight heroin use. Governor Andrew Cuomo came out Wednesday with several steps the state is using to do that, including beefing up the state's narcotics team and bringing awareness campaigns to colleges and universities.
To combat the problem, the governor plans to double the size of the state police narcotics unit.
Governor Cuomo said, “In New York State, the rate of seizures of heroin has gone up 67 percent in the past four years. We're adding 100 New York State troopers just to fight this heroin epidemic.”
The new investigators will also be trained to use a heroin antidote called Narcan. The governor's initiative calls for all emergency responders to have access to the drug to save lives.
Dr. Timothy Wiegand is the Director of Toxicology for UR Medicine. He says Narcan is the best way to get those who have overdosed, breathing again.
Dr. Timothy Wiegand, Director of Toxicology, UR Medicine said, “When it kills people, it shuts down their ability to breathe, their awareness that they need to take a breath that they need to get oxygen into their system.”
The governor's initiative also calls for an awareness campaign at public colleges and universities across the state, like at the University of Rochester where freshman Juliette Richard died from a heroin overdose a couple of months ago. University of Rochester President Joel Seligman says he is concerned about drug use and wants to make sure all students are aware of the dangers.
Joel Seligman, University of Rochester President, said, “We are aware there are some dangerous substances used here.”
The governor says another big part of this initiative involves training college faculty and staff on the warning signs of heroin use. With more young adults using the drug, the goal is to make sure everyone is armed with the knowledge and tools they need to help prevent it on college campuses.