A legislative column by Assemblyman Karl Brabenec. (R,TCN-Deerpark)

I stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow civil servants both from New York and across the country to address the issue of the opioid epidemic. From the White House to state legislatures, our country is rallying together fight this monster that is killing so many of our citizens.

My solution starts with T.R.E.E; Treatment, Rehabilitation, Education and Enforcement, the four-pronged attack to solve this terrible problem. Since 1999 over 300,000 Americans have died due to opioid overdoses, a chilling number that must be curtailed.

Treatment and Rehabilitation are the focus on finding a solution to the current epidemic, from inpatient and outpatient facilities being supplied enough to correctly treat their patients to ensuring that there are enough places to treat those already addicted. Within this year’s budget there was over $200 million set aside for patients’ treatment and rehabilitation.

Coupled with this is the limitation of harmful insurance practices like ‘Fail First,’ a directive that the cheapest drug be given to a patient rather than the best one.It is important to ensure that these people are being treated for an illness they possess, not attacked due to a perceived lack of fortitude.

Arguably the most important point is educating children as early as 3rd grade about the risks of these drugs. This includes fighting the stigma of bums in the alley and encouraging them to be aware of their surroundings. Our children’s safety should always be our primary concern.

Finally we come to the issue of Enforcement. Passing laws such as ‘Laree’s Law’ or ‘Death by Dealer’ will attack the distributors by equating their sale to someone who overdoses to a homicide. This, along with total support of law enforcement’s ability to make arrests, will start to chip away at the spread of opioids.

By standing with both our law enforcement agencies and our medical infrastructure we can start to solve the opioid epidemic, and I encourage anyone who is suffering or knows someone who is suffering to come forward and seek help. For those seeking aid in Orange County, contact the drug abuse hotline at 1-800-522-5353.

Assemblyman Brabenec represents the 98th District, which includes the towns of Deerpark, Greenville, Minisink, Warwick, Tuxedo, Monroe, and Ramapo. For more information, please visit his Official Website.

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