Schumer launches plan to combat heroin epidemic

Imagine a database that would allow law enforcement officials to crack down on heroin and other drugs more effectively.

Imagine it set up for every locality in New York state, collecting information on drug-related crimes, overdoses, deaths and hospital admissions, allowing police to identify trends and determine what drugs are the most sought after.

Indeed, with heroin a nationwide epidemic and afflicting even smaller, rural communities, it’s no surprise that U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is pushing for such a database in New York state.

In a press conference call, Schumer, New York’s senior Democratic senator, called on the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, or ONDCP, to establish a detailed framework and implementation plan for New York counties to set up “Drug-Stat,” a first-ever information sharing database.

In addition to the aforementioned functions, the database would assist law enforcement – as well as hospitals and toxicologists – in cross-county communication and the distribution of resources to high-crime areas.

“It is critical that we attack the problem from all fronts by improving information sharing,” Schumer said. “So, I’m calling on the feds to help establish a statewide database of drug-related crimes, overdoses and more, so law enforcement can track the trends and work to stop drugs from coming into our communities. Information drives solutions.”

Schumer also urged Senate appropriators to increase funding for Substance Abuse Preven-tion and Treatment Block Grants, which supplement substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.

Twenty percent of the block grants must be used on prevention and educational programs that target younger people who have never used, said Schumer.

“The victims of heroin use are too often our kids, full of potential, whose lives are altered in an instant by these terrible and addictive drugs,” Schumer said. “More must be done to curtail the spike in heroin use and other drugs, and rescue more New York residents from the bane of drug addiction.”

Schumer further acknow-ledged that 14 days, which has become the typical length of stay for addicts in inpatient care, is not enough.

If treatment facilities are not able to keep users for as long as they need, or are turning down applicants, they instead enter the health care system through the emergency room, as a result of an overdose, Schumer said.

“Prevention and treatment programs, beyond saving New Yorkers from a harmful and life-destroying drug, are a fiscally prudent investment,” Schumer said.