North Country leaders say NY opioid settlements will help curb epidemic, worsened by pandemic

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Attorney General Letitia James says it’s time to heal New York. For the next month, James will travel throughout the state, delivering up to $1.5 billion to be invested in addiction prevention, education, and treatment resources.

“I know there is no dollar amount that can make up for all we have lost, but I hope and pray each day that these settlements will teach future corporate drug manufacturers to work in the public’s interest and not line their pockets with profit,” Attorney General James said.

The settlements are the result of lawsuits against Big Pharma and the Sackler family, for their role in marketing highly addictive drugs. State leaders say the pandemic has only made this epidemic worse.

“2020 was the deadliest year for overdoses our country has experienced,” James said. “It didn’t need to be this way.”

The same is true for New York’s North Country. Staff from CVPH say last year, the hospital saw 92 overdoses. That’s 5x the number it saw the year prior. Assemblyman Billy Jones says it almost feels like the work to combat this has begun from square one.

“Because people have been in isolation, a lot of those resources weren’t available to them,” he said. “Our providers, are counselors, our behavioral and mental health people couldn’t get to them during the pandemic.”

Jones says Clinton county will see close to $1 million, Franklin will get nearly half a million. He says it’s crucial the money goes directly to OASAS– the state’s office of addiction services and support, and not lost in a general fund.

The assemblyman also sponsored legislation that brings local businesses to the table, helping companies get tax credit to hire people in recovery.

“It’s another tool in helping individuals that are in recovery break through that barrier and break through that stigma,” Jones said. “And have the companies that desperately need the help, take a chance and hire these individuals.”

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