The misuse and addiction of opioid painkillers is one of the most rapidly growing and serious drug addiction epidemics to plague the United States. The state of New York, which has the country's third highest population, has not been immune to the problems associated with this ongoing and growing drug problem.
An August 8, 2014 press release from Governor Andrew Cuomo reported that, in 2013, 89,269 people in the state were admitted to a drug treatment center for abuse of heroin or prescription painkillers, up from 63,793 in 2004. The State of New York is very aware that this is a problem too big to be ignored, and taking steps to prevent addiction and misuse, and help those already using know that resources to help them get on the road to recovery are available.
Part of this effort is seen in the release of a new website - http://www.combatheroin.ny.gov/
An effort to help people find help
This website is part of a campaign of education and raising awareness through media called Combat Heroin. It is maintained and operated by OASAS – New York State's Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse that also can be reached through the hotline – 1-877-846-7369 (877-8-HOPENY).
This phone number can be called at any time to help you speak with a trained clinician, and find a treatment center near you to help you deal with your addiction. The website and media campaign "Combat Heroin" is an important part of this effort to prevent and treat drug addiction.
Governor Cuomo is hopeful this new website will "get the word out about the dangers of this illegal drug use, as well as the treatment and support services that are available to those who need help." To this effort, the campaign also involves PSAs to air on television, and social media awareness efforts.
Features of the website
The website is based on extensive research into the causes of heroin and prescription drug addiction, and was produced with support and input of people who had lost loved ones to prescription drug addiction and overdoes, including Susan Salomone, who's son Justin died in 2012 of a drug overdose, and Country, a teenager in long term recovery.
Susan and Country and others have video testimonies throughout the website, offering personal details about the dangers of prescription drug misuse, and the heroin use it often leads to, as well as ways that recovery and hope is available.
The website has four main sections to it:
1) Prevention – written for parents and other people wanting to offer support to teenagers. It includes a lot of information helping people be aware of ways to prevent people from falling into substance abuse, including suggestions on how to have open communication and talk about drug use, as well as advice on how to hide and get rid of prescription drugs so they aren't misused.
2) Warning signs – a list of some of the symptoms of drug abuse, including changes in physical appearance, changes in behavior, and the paraphernalia that indicate someone might have a drug habit.
3) Get help – steps you can take in having a conversation or intervention to help someone realize their addiction and need of recovery, as well as information about the services OASAS can provide to help someone in recovery.
4) Get involved – ways for people in the community to help prevent drug abuse, and find help for those who need it.
Part of a holistic plan to help stop drug addiction
In addition to this media education campaign, the government of New York is taking other steps to try to stem the tide of drug addiction, attacking this huge social problem from a variety of vantage points. These efforts include insurance reform, new models of community-based health care, and expanding the availability of naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses.