Lawmakers demand action after shocking report on heroin overdoses
BRENTWOOD, N.Y. — A new report found that more people are dying in Suffolk County from heroin overdoses than any other county in New York State.
Now some lawmakers are demanding action to get help to stop the epidemic.
One solution may be found at The Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center in Brentwood. It was once the largest hospital in the world.
But now this 400 acre facility is under utilized.
State Assemblyman Andrew Raia says it is the perfect place to start combating the heroin epidemic.
"This is an emergency," said Raia. "We need to open up those beds as quickly as possible."
More than 300 people died in Suffolk County from heroin overdoses in a 60 month period from 2009 to 2013.
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Raia says out-patient facilities are over flowing in Suffolk County.
He says inpatient treatment is more effective and the state has the space at Pilgrim State to start winning the war against heroin abuse.
"We have the resources and facilities there now" said Raia adding " the state needs to step up."
Suffolk County had more overdose fatalities than the the Bronx and Brooklyn combined in the time period studied in the state report.
Legislator William Spencer who is also a practicing doctor says a lot of people became addicted to heroin after becoming addicted to prescription opiates.
"When these medications were marketed in the late 90s they were introduced as alternative for pain management that was not addictive, and that was just not true," said Spencer.
He says the prescription drug companies helped create the heroin epidemic and now they need to help in the treatment of patients and the campaign to stop the surge of heroin.
While Spencer says we're "struggling in government," he says the drug makers are not.
"The pharmaceutical companies have profited greatly," he said.
Raia hopes to pass legislation in Albany by June.