Law enforcement, recovery experts react to opioid bills signed by Hochul

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Last year, more than 5,100 New Yorkers died as a result of drug overdoses setting a record for the number of deaths in one year for the State.

This week, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed five bills she said will not only fight the opioid crisis but also create greater access to overdose reversal drugs.

News10NBC talked to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office about the governor’s plan.

Gov. Hochul said the signing of this legislative package is very personal for her as both she, and her family have dealt with the loss of a loved one due to an addiction to opioids.

"There are good people with great potential, and they’re dealing with an illness right now, and how do we deal with that illness," Hochul said.

The five bills Hochul signed are aimed at destigmatizing addiction. Part of her plan is to also make medication-assisted treatment more accessible in jails.

Monroe County Undersheriff Korey Brown told us this matches what the MCSO has already been doing.

"I think some of these bills like the medically-assisted treatment, we’ve done that two and years ago. Right, so that just aligns with things we’ve already been doing to try to help people right. Our goal is to get people that are users to help them so they don’t have to use anymore," Brown said.

The legislation also creates an online directory for opioid reversal drugs.

"Anytime we can save a life we want to. Right, the more opportunity to use NARCAN so that they don’t pass away the better that is. So putting in more places is a great thing, and then we want to follow all that up with treatment, and help for the families so that we can try to get people off of heroin, so they can go back to their normal lives," Brown said.

Hochul said six years ago she lost her nephew, Michael, to an opioid overdose.

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News10NBC talked to Lori Drescher, who lost her son recently to fentanyl poisoning. Drescher is the Founder of Recovery Coach University.

"I’m thrilled that these have become law. I’m just really curious about why they haven’t been law for a long time, and why other areas of the state need us to pass Bills when there are so many more important Bills we should be passing," Drescher said.

Moving forward Drescher said she would like to see one thing.

"We need people in recovery to be invited to the leadership table because nobody knows more than they do. What will be a success? What the barriers are? Where the stigma comes from, and how we solve some of these huge problems?" Drescher said.

She said she’s a bit flabbergasted the signing of these bills has taken this long.

"That we have to decriminalize possession of a medication to help people with opioid use disorder. That people were being criminalized for using a medication that helped saved their lives. Would we do that with any other chronic disease medication?" Drescher asked.

She went on to say, she would like to see more alternative treatments as well.

"Medical procedures where we go in, and actually disrupt what’s happening in the pathways of the brain to reduce the cravings. This is all possible, it’s all happening," Drescher said.

Some of the other Bills that were signed include, decriminalizing the possession and sale of hypodermic needles and syringes, establishing an online directory for opioid overdose drugs such as NARCAN, and diverting more felony offenders to treatment programs rather than incarceration.