On August 18, 2015, in the article Candidates for the NY State Senate address heroin crisis, the subject of combating the recent surge in heroin addiction was address. The article was one day after a new programs was put in place by the Obama Administration, and we reached out to all known candidates seeking to run for the NY 52nd State Senate seat. We received a response from Republican Undersheriff Fred Akshar in time for publication of the article. No response was received at that time from Democrat Barbara Fiala, nor Denver Jones who was seeking to challenge the Republican nominee picked by Broome County Chairman Bijoy Datta. The Libertarian Party candidate Rich Purtell did not respond at that time.
Since that time, Denver Jones has continued in the courts with his effort to be included on the November ballot as an independent for the special election. He has not responded to our request for comment. Barbara Fiala also has remained silent since that article was published. The Fiala campaign, and Fred Akshar, did speak with and respond to WBNG and Time Warner Cable News on September 17, 2015, when those media companies once again addressed the issue we had covered a month prior. We wrote the followup article, NY 52nd State Senate candidates make second attempt to answer heroin epidemic.
On September 24, 2015, we received notification from Rich Purtell that he is attempting a write-in campaign for the State Senate special election. We were further informed that Mr. Purtell currently intends to run in 2016 as well for the regular scheduled election for this same seat. Mr. Purtell also took the opportunity to provide us the following comment on the issue of combating heroin addiction in the Southern Tier.
“Quickly I would say that much of the problem starts with a “pill popping” mentality for pain therapy. OxyContin addiction is a “gateway” to Heroin use and if we could get the health care profession to move towards other ideas rather than pills, this would do much to help: Acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy (my wife is a licensed massage therapist), chiropractic treatment, etc. Federal and state insurance programs should be oriented towards long-view best approaches to pain management, rather than short term views. Pill therapy might be cheaper in the short run, but if someone becomes addicted to OxyContin and then moves on to Heroin, we’ve created a much bigger, and more expensive, problem.
And I still say that the “War on Drugs” has greatly exacerbated the problem by moving us towards Fentanyl-Laced Heroin. It’s the Fentanyl which is really the key issue, as it is so very powerful compared to Heroin, creating much higher risk of overdose. If we had decriminalized drug use years ago, and focused on treatment instead of incarceration, we wouldn’t be in this mess.
As the luck of timing would have it, I had a doctor’s appointment today and chatted with my physician about the Opioid problem. He referred me to a June 15, 2015 Time Magazine article. One key point he made is that when prescription meds are used to treat chronic pain, the patient’s tolerance to pain goes down. So it’s easy to get on the treadmill of needing pain meds for treatment, but hard to get off.
But specifically what can a person in the NYS legislature do about the problem?
· As I said earlier, insurance policies should be oriented to give equal, or even greater, priority to treatments other than continuous medication.
· Tighten up on the sale and distribution of Fentanyl.
· Decriminalize so that addicts are more likely to step forward.
· Civil asset forfeiture policies, aside from being anti-liberty and putting the judge/jury/executioner in the hands of the police, are also likely to retard people coming forward. I would fight for legislation against civil asset forfeiture, which would have some (probably small mind you) positive impact on the Heroin problem.
Admittedly this is not my field of expertise, and would rely on much guidance and input from the community. But always and foremost as a liberty oriented person, I would approach this problem from a public health perspective, using as little government intervention as possible, to help people both avoid and escape from poor choices.” – Rich Purtell, 9/24/15, Facebook Page: “Rich Purtell for NYS Senate District 52”
As stated in prior articles, we will always provide any response from elected politicians and/or candidate, verbatim, for our readers to be able see in full context. We again offer Barbara Fiala and Denver Jones the opportunity to let their voices be heard here, and for Fred Akshar to expand on his initial comments. We equally offer all candidates and elected officials, for any election race or seat held, the opportunity to be interviewed by Michael “Vass” Vasquez. We do not endorse any candidate, but support any effort that allows voters to know more about the candidates and thus make an informed vote.