A total of $50,000 in state funds is going to help the St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force expand its fight against the heroin epidemic in the North Country.
State Sen. Patty Ritchie, a Heuvelton Republican who represents the western half of St. Lawrence County including Ogdensburg, Canton and Gouverneur, said she secured the funds after holding a hearing on the matter.
“Earlier this year, I held a forum on the heroin and opioid crisis facing small towns across Northern New York and local law enforcement leaders told me they needed more resources to crack down on major dealers,” Ritchie said in a news release. “This additional funding will help our law enforcement community focus on the criminal element responsible for bringing so much misery to so many families.”
“The St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force is very grateful to Senator Ritchie for obtaining funds that will allow us to expand our investigations into the sources of the heroin and other narcotics being sold in our communities,” said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells. “When we told Senator Ritchie we needed more resources, she promised to go to Albany to get us the help we needed to take back our neighborhoods.”
Across the country, state and region, heroin use is on the rise. The number of deaths from heroin overdose has doubled across the state, and the numbers of users seeking treatment for heroin and opioid abuse in St. Lawrence Counties tripled over 10 years.
As a member of the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, Ritchie hosted a heroin and opioid abuse forum in May where recovering addicts, law enforcement officials, drug treatment experts and friends and family members of users shared their suggestions for combating the drug.
In June, legislation sponsored by Senator Ritchie to expand insurance coverage for treating heroin addiction was signed into law.