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Hochul signs anti-opioid addiction bills into law, sharing her own family story

New York governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a ceremony to sign a package of bills to combat the opioid crisis, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in New York.
Mary Altaffer
/
Associated Press
New York governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a ceremony to sign a package of bills to combat the opioid crisis, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in New York.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a package of bills into law dealing with the opioid addiction crisis, saying the issue is a personal one for her family.

Hochul shared the story of her nephew, Michael, who was proscribed an opiate-based pain killer when, as a teen working part time at a deli, he cut himself on a meat slicer. He became addicted, sought drugs on the street, became homeless and went to prison. Hochul said her nephew began to turn his life around, becoming a sports coach and an addiction counselor. But he slipped up, and died after overdosing on fentanyl.

“His mother found him with the needles in his arms,” said Hochul, who said Michael’s wake drew 500 people, many of whom were themselves struggling with recovery.

“How devastated they were when they saw how someone who had believed in their recovery did not survive themselves,” she said.

The new laws will decriminalize the sale and possession of a syringe, establish a statewide directory for the overdose antidote medicine naloxone and ban prosecutors from using naloxone use as evidence in a criminal case. They also require better addiction treatment for prison inmates, and divert some offenders into rehab programs instead of jail.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.