Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series on prescription drug abuse in Chenango County and New York State. On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced legislation to crackdown on the alarming epidemic, which Schumer called “a growing scourge in upstate New York.” Tomorrow’s story will focus on the health ramifications associated with prescription drug abuse, as well as its addictive nature.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation expected to clear the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and backed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer will aim to address what some are calling a nationwide crisis in prescription drug abuse. By increasing the penalties associated with the theft and illegal sale of prescription drugs, the SAFE DOSES Act will give law enforcement agencies across the country access to wiretaps and other tools to combat what Schumer called an unprecedented spike in drug abuse in New York State.
There were approximately 12,800 reported prescription abuse cases across upstate New York in 2011, according to a Schumer press release, including more than 1,400 in the Southern Tier region.
At the county level, prescription drug abuse and crimes associated with the sale of over-the-counter narcotics like Oxycontin, Vicodin and other opiate-based drugs have spiked in recent years, according to local law enforcement.
“There has been a disturbing level of prescription drug abuse across New York State and each day that another drug-related arrest and pharmacy theft occurs further proves that something must be done to stop the prescription drug epidemic that is sweeping the country, leaving crime and tragedy in its wake,” stated Schumer. “That is why I’m pleased that my plan to crack down on prescription drug theft in Upstate New York will clear a major legislative hurdle this week, by passing through the Senate Judiciary Committee.”