Archive for the tag 'drugs'

Source: Doug88888/Flickr

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

Despite the sharp rise in heroin abuse and the continuing scourge of prescription painkiller addiction among a broad demographic, New York State is not properly equipped to address the opiate addiction crisis, says Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said the budget for the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has remained “flat” for several years and, remarkably, there is no funding directly related to opiate abuse in the 2014-1015 executive budget. “Although there is reinvestment in this budget, there are little details how it will be distributed or what kind of services it will provide,” he said.

While New York State has made major strides in the battle against prescription drug abuse, a shift from prescription opioid to heroin abuse has resulted in a rise of treatment admissions across the state, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. The Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse is asking for $5 million to expand access to and capacity for treatment of opiate abuse, another $5 million to expand school-based prevention programs, and $5 million to expand community-based detoxification services.

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Cymbrowitz (A.8591) would establish the Community Chemical Dependency Services Expansion Program, which would take advantage of savings that the state realizes as behavioral health services transition into managed care and the utilization of medically managed detoxification services declines. The program would distribute these funds to community based providers.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz also co-sponsored legislation (A.8637) to increase the availability of Naloxone, sometimes referred to as the drug overdose antidote. When administered in a timely fashion, Naloxone counteracts the life threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system caused by an opioid or heroin overdose.

In 2005, the state authorized non-medical persons to administer Naloxone to an individual in order to prevent an opioid or heroin overdose from becoming fatal. Currently, parents and family members of addicts are being turned away from Naloxone training programs or are attending the programs and not receiving Naloxone due to the shortage of prescribers participating in such programs. “Due to the increase of opioid abuse, expanded access to Naloxone has become necessary priority to save lives,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

In Nassau County, EMTs administer Naloxone through their police department’s ambulance services and in Suffolk County the state provided first responders with Naloxone. “Expanding upon the success of existing programs, more lives could be saved if Naloxone were available to addicts, their families and other people likely to be in a position to assist a person at risk of an opioid related overdose,” he said.

“Under this legislation, one prescriber would be able to issue a non-patient specific order to numerous programs, allowing for increased access. This legislation will give the person who is likely to discover an overdose victim the ability to save their life, a life that could otherwise be lost if the victim has to wait for the EMT to arrive,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

In testimony by the NYS Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers during a recent budget hearing in Albany, executive director John Coppola noted that overdose deaths related to prescription painkillers increased 233% between 2000 and 2012, while heroin-related overdose deaths also increased 84% between 2010 and 2012 in NYC after four years on the decline, according to a NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene report.

“The number of overdose deaths in New York State now exceeds motor vehicle related deaths. This staggering loss of life demands bold leadership and action from New York’s elected officials,” Coppola said.

The 2012-2013 State Fiscal Year Enacted Budget established the prescription pain medication awareness program. Another major initiative to help New York protect its citizens from the consequences of prescription drug abuse is the Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing Act, known as I-STOP, enacted in 2012. “This seminal legislation tracks controlled substance prescribing, prevents doctor shopping and weeds out unscrupulous doctors. One unfortunate side effect of successfully restricting street access to these controlled substances is that addicts are turning to other drugs, such as heroin,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

“Without treatment readily available, the public health costs will be severe for New York State — and the human toll even more so,” he said.

Linsalato (NYPD Handout)

Linsalato (Police handout)

It’s probably time to quit being a doting mom when your little boy is in prison. Or, at least, don’t bring him illegal substances while he’s there.

That’s what Sheepshead Bay resident Yelena Linsalato is accused of. According to authorities, Linsalato has been charged with a felony and a misdemeanor after she attempted to smuggle drugs and money to her son at the Fishkill Correctional Facility.

The New York Post reports:

Yelena Linsalato, 43, of Avenue Z in Sheepshead Bay was visiting her son Alexander Krasnikov, 23, at the Fishkill Correctional Facility about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when a corrections officer spotted her passing cash and a “controlled substance” to the inmate, Inspector Benjamin Walsh told The Post Monday.

She was charged with first-degree promoting prison contraband, a felony, and possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.

“It was accident,” Linsalato insisted when reached by phone at her home. “I don’t want to talk to you.”

The substance is being tested to verify that it is a narcotic, and authorities will not identify it to the public until the results are returned.

Krasnikov is serving six years for first-degree robbery and burglary charges. Linsalato is due in court today.

Source: Humans of New York via Facebook

Source: Humans of New York via Facebook

The Facebook account associated with the incredibly popular Humans of New York photoblog ran the above photo on Tuesday, with the subject quoted as saying he participates in an “underground fighting league in Coney Island” run by “the Russians.”

Here’s the full caption:

“The Russians run an underground fighting league in Coney Island where they pay junkies to fight. I fought about fifty fights for them. They pay you $200 win or lose. They’d always make sure I was real doped up before the fight. I mean they weren’t good people but it did make me feel kinda important to have all those gangsters cheering for me. And they’d always be really happy if I won, because that meant I’d made them money.”

The post received quite a bit of attention from our Facebook readers, but no one seems particularly confident the story is true. One reader writes that the fighting league’s existence would be unlikely to stay so secret in the otherwise gossipy Russian community.

“There would be rumors. In all my years in this community I have never heard anything remote to this,” the reader wrote.

Can anyone back this up?

Sorin (Source: NYPD handout via Gothamist)

Sorin (Source: NYPD handout via Gothamist)

An observant Jewish drug dealer from Sheepshead Bay was sentenced to up to five years on Tuesday for weapons and drugs possession. Last year we reported that a group of drug dealers had been arrested in April 2013 during a raid, including the man who received the five-year sentence, Edward Sorin.

After a six-month investigation that led up to the raid, cops found 23,000 oxycodone pills valued at $460,000 and a sawed-off shotgun in the group’s headquarters on Bedford Avenue.

Sawed-off shotguns and pills are the kinds of things you would expect from a drug bust but, according to legal documents, this story had an extra novelty feature. Back in September we wrote:

According to court documents, these guys allegedly sent out mass text messages to their client base informing them that they would not be available to sell drugs after sundown on Friday or before sundown on Saturday.

“We are closing 7:30 on the dot and we will reopen saturday 8:15 so if u need anything you have 45mins to get what you want,” read one text message sent out this past April.

The other members of the group are awaiting trial at the moment. They include, Jack Zibak, Jack Zaibak, David Gerowitz and Philip Mandel, all of Brooklyn, authorities told the New York Post.

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

State Senator Diane Savino, who represents parts of Coney Island, Gravesend, Brighton Beach and Bensonhurst, thinks highly of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to get groovy with medical marijuana.

News came of Cuomo’s change of heart – he previously said “absolutely not” to medical marijuana advocates as recently as a year ago – on Saturday, when the New York Times reported the governor would announce an executive action allowing limited use of marijuana by those with serious illnesses.

The action is a much more modest step than other states that permit medical marijuana, limiting distribution to just 20 hospitals across a state of 19.5 million people. Prescriptions will only be given to patients with cancer, glaucoma and other diseases determined by the state Department of Health. The program is expected to be formally announced on Wednesday during Cuomo’s State of the State address.

For Savino, who has long been a proponent of medical marijuana and has repeatedly offered up legislation authorizing its distribution (to no avail), it’s a win for seriously ill patients.

“The most important thing is that it’s an acknowledgement that the benefits outweigh the risks,” told the Staten Island Advance. “Compared to where we were last year, when Cuomo said absolutely not, I’m very pleased … It’s a great first step.”

Details about the policy and program are still vague, and Savino hopes to work alongside Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who sponsored the medical marijuana bill in the Assembly, to flesh out details with the Cuomo administration.

Savino’s bill stalled in the Senate year after year due to Republican opposition. It passed the Assembly four times, and 82 percent of New York voters approve of medical marijuana. Cuomo’s action side steps the legislature altogether.

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

Back in June we covered State Senator Diane Savino’s effort - and the Senate’s failure – to legalize medical marijuana. At the time, she blamed the political system for stifling an issue that the public supported. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo were blamed for killing any political support for medical marijuana.

The New York State Assembly passed medical marijuana laws in the past, but the measures never pass the Senate when it was Republican led. Savino, a member of the Independent Democratic Caucus that currently shares power with the Republicans, was optimistic when it was introduced last year. It still didn’t make it to the floor, but Savino wasn’t discouraged.

To help move the effort forward, she’s working with advocacy organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and their director Julie Netherland.

She’s also teamed up with Manhattan’s Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried. The Star-Gazette reported this morning that Gottfried held a hearing last Wednesday on Long Island to drum up support as Savino prepares to reintroduce legislation for medical marijuana.

“New York is a progressive state on a lot of issues, but drug policy is not one of them,” Savino told the paper. “We have some of the most draconian laws in the country.”

Scene of the explosion

Scene of the explosion (Source: Google Maps)

The explosion that rocked a Marine Park block yesterday was caused by two teenagers’ attempts to make marijuana hash, the Daily News reports.

The duo, a 19-year-old man and a 17-year-old high school student, were critically injured in the early morning blast and were taken to Staten Island Hospital, where they were in stable but serious condition.

The incident happened at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Marine Parkway near Quentin Road. Cops told the Daily News that the two were attempting to make marijuana hash by dousing it with butane gas and allowing it evaporate. One of the teens lit a cigarette, causing the gas vapors to ignite.

The 17-year-old girl is a student at Rachel Carson High School in Brighton Beach.

According to the paper, cops found a “large amount” of marijuana, including plants. They had filled a 30-gallon tub with pot and covered it in butane.

Criminal charges are pending.

2632East21

The proposed location for First Steps to Recovery

In the midst of the summer drama centered around a proposed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility on East 21st Street, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz blasted the agencies involved for ignoring community input. He promised a legislative solution that would force these agencies to consider local objections in the future.

This week, Cymbrowitz made good on his promise by introducing Assembly Bill 8237, requiring that the oversight agency, the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), solicit and review recommendations from local governmental units before approving outpatient drug treatment centers.

As we learned in the attempted relocation of the Brighton Beach-based First Steps to Recovery to a residential building at 2632 East 21st Street, the under-equipped OASAS puts its faith on decision-making in the municipality. In New York City, that’s the Department of Health.

First Steps came before Community Board 15, which blasted the plan. Unfortunately, their letter of opposition was sent to OASAS – not to the Department of Health. So when the DOH gave the a-o-k, OASAS fell in line.

Cymbrowitz’s bill requires the local governmental unit (the DOH) to solicit the opinion of the relevant community board before making its final determination.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, which he chairs. In the Senate, it has been sponsored by Senator Diane Savino. As a member of the power-sharing coalition in charge, Savino’s support in the Senate is a fairly positive sign for the bill’s fate.

Here’s the full press release from Cymbrowitz:

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), fresh off a victory over a controversial drug treatment center in SheepsheadBay, is introducing legislation (A.8237) requiring community input to be considered in the placement of outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities.

Currently, the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) entrusts local agencies throughout the state to review sites for outpatient drug treatment centers. In New York City, that task falls to the Department of Health. In July Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, excoriated DOH for ignoring community opposition and recommending approval of a site at 2632 East 21st Street – a “totally inappropriate” location without parking, near schools and in a residential building with young families. At Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ urging, OASAS took the unusual step of overriding DOH and denying the Sheepshead Bay site.

The bill — which State Senator Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn) will sponsor in the Senate — would amend the mental hygiene law by requiring the DOH and other local units throughout the state to solicit and include community input as part of their assessment of proposed outpatient drug treatment centers. In the city, that input would come from the community board where the facility would be located.

In a letter this week to DOH Commissioner Thomas Farley, Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said that if DOH had paid attention to community concerns, “it is likely that your agency would have recognized the significant quality-of-life issues that led to the site’s eventual denial.” He said the recent case indicates “clear vulnerabilities in the existing procedure for reviewing outpatient substance abuse facilities.”

“I cannot overstate the importance of these outpatient facilities, but appropriate placement is essential,” he said. “This common-sense legislation would ensure that the community is afforded the opportunity to provide input on the establishment of a chemical dependence facility in their area. It would also help to keep channels open among the service provider, local governmental unit, OASAS and the local community to assure a fully transparent process that remains sensitive to the needs of everyone who is impacted by these facilities.”

"Reflections" by Lee Teter

“Reflections” by Lee Teter

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill this week sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz that would provide substance abuse services for veterans. According to a press release, the bill would coordinate services between the state Office of Alcoholism Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the Office of Mental Health and the Division of Veteran Affairs to help veterans in need.

In his remarks on the signing of the bill into law, Cymbrowitz cited the dangerous realities facing veterans as they return home.

“Through their service, many military personnel were exposed to or have experienced trauma, placing many of them in high-risk categories for triggering underlying conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse or other mental health conditions,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

The press release also noted troubling statistics which speak to the urgency of providing veterans with all the help they need:

According to the Mental Health Association of NYC, veterans are twice as likely as the general population to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or substance abuse, the lawmaker said. In New York, programs that are certified by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services treated nearly 14,000 veterans for alcohol or substance abuse in the past year, but the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that approximately 75,000 New York veterans suffer from alcoholism or chemical dependence.

Cymbrowitz praised Cuomo for signing the legislation into law, joining the fight to help veterans.

“I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this important legislation that will get veterans with addiction problems the services they need and hopefully allow them to get their lives back on track,” he said.

2632East21

The proposed location for First Steps to Recovery

The state agency charged with approving drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers has reversed course, choosing to reject a controversial clinic slated for East 21st Street after initially allowing the project to go forward.

The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on Friday officially denied First Steps to Recovery permission to move from its current Brighton Beach facility to an expanded location in a residential building at 2632 East 21st Street.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, called the move a “bold and unusual” step for the agency, and declared it a victory for the community.

Cymbrowitz, along with Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo and neighbors of the building, led the fight against the state after they initially shrugged off responsibility to the city’s Department of Health. Cymbrowitz agreed with neighbors that a residential building on a narrow residential street was no place for an alcoholic rehabilitation center like First Steps to Recovery.

“The location was completely unacceptable,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said in a press release. “This wasn’t a case of NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard]. The same night CB 15 rejected this proposal they approved another treatment center elsewhere.”

The owners of the clinic first approached Community Board 15 in November, under the instruction of OASAS to gain approval. The Board denied the facility on the grounds that it was an inappropriate location. However, Scavo also took issue with the owner’s behavior, which she considered rude – for which the owner has shot back, claiming discrimination.

The Board’s verdict was sent to Albany, but OASAS left the decision up to the city’s Department of Health – which never consulted the Board. Without notification to the Board or elected officials, the DOH granted temporary permits, and First Steps began renovating the new location.

Neighbors were the first to sound the alarm, which channeled back up through Scavo and Cymbrowitz, and on to Albany, ultimately leading OASAS to reverse the DOH’s decision, and leaving Cymbrowitz promising legislative changes to how such facilities win approval.

He is working on a bill that would mandate the New York City Health Department to take community objections into consideration when evaluating sites for outpatient substance abuse facilities.

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