Breaking the Stigma

How Lawmakers Can Help Make It Easier for People to Seek Treatment for Addiction


Today, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a package of bills into law “aimed toward reducing drug-related overdose deaths across New York State and encouraging those suffering from addiction to seek help in their recovery.” The legislation includes five bills that are focused on decriminalization and assisting individuals with getting treatment for substance use disorder. 

The final bill in the package also expands the number of crimes eligible for diversion to a substance use treatment program. The governor, according to the state website, said this was a personal battle for her after losing her nephew to addiction.

Bills signed by New York Governor Hochul include:

  • Legislation S.911/A.234 amends several laws to “promote the use of opioid antagonists in preventing drug-related overdoses.” The bill would decriminalize possession of these drugs that are used to block opioids.

  • Legislation 5.1795/A.868 helps to establish a medication-assisted treatment program for inmates at jails and prisons throughout the state.
  • Legislation S.2523/A.868 “decriminalizes the possession and sale of hypodermic needles and syringes.” By decriminalizing the possession and sale of this paraphernalia it can help to reduce the rates of deadly viruses like HIV and hepatitis.
  • Legislation 2.6044/A.128 enables the Office of Addiction Services and Supports to establish and maintain an online directory of opioid antagonists distributors.

  • Legislation S.7228/A.5511 expands the list of crimes eligible for diversion. Diversion is available to certain offenders with a substance use disorder. The diversion program requires enrollment in treatment.

It is hoped that other states and jurisdictions will join in the effort to combat drug-related overdoses and deaths. The idea is that by removing the stigma around seeking treatment and by making treatment more accessible, more lives will be saved.