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Brad Lamm, CIP | New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators announced an agreement Wednesday on a set of pro-treatment bills marking a gigantic step towards helping in the face of this massive heroin epidemic. The disease of addiction has rippled through our communities. I imagine most of you know someone who has lost someone they love (or once removed anyway) from this disease.

In most states in the USA, the question of what to do with the addict is answered with incarceration most often.

While I’ve been toiling in the treatment and intervention soup for more than a decade, it’s powerful to see people with real power taking steps away from jails alone and moving toward treatment and prevention.

The demand for addiction treatment has exploded. In the face of overwhelming need, most who are addicted will never recover, and never get meaningful help. This progression is not just drastic from 10 and 20 years ago. The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence was serving just under 100 families a month just five years ago. Now, they served over 800 families during this past March alone.

That gigantic jump follows the growth of opiate addiction increasing more than 80 percent during this time period with a growing number of overdose deaths.

The bright spot in moving to open up treatment illustrates the shift to believing addiction is a diseased state, not simply a criminal state. According to the New York Times the NY powers that be, “seemed less likely to pass more bills adding to the criminalization of drugs and more prone to support treatment.” This is without a doubt a good step in the right direction.

While there is a lot to be excited about with this recent turn of events, resources are still needed. In 2008, parity laws out of DC mandated addiction treatment and mental health care be covered by insurance just as physical ailments. The move toward real parity is mandated now under law yet it’s the squeaky mom or dad advocating for their loved one who often gets the better coverage.

With so many lives at stake, steps in the right direction are crucial, and one such as this in my home state of New York, is nothing short of a miracle.

Eleven years away from alcohol and Crystal Meth dependence, I stand recovered; evidence that treatment works, and that good clinical care along with peer support and case management help change lives.

Thanks to Governor Cuomo! This legislation matters.

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