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Tonight: Emergency Town Hall Call to Focus on Heroin Epidemic

An emergency telephone town hall Thursday (Feb. 27) night will focus on the heroin epidemic affecting the region, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D - Cold Spring) said.

Maloney is calling for the Hudson Valley to be labeled a "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area." He wants to increase the availability of naloxone, an opioid antagonist used to counter the effects of an overdose. It is regarded "within the medical community as highly effective when used properly," Katie Zezima writes in this Associated Press story.

Kristin McConnell, executive director of the Putnam chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism & Other Drug Dependencies, will be on the call, as will members of the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, TEAM Newburgh and the National Drug Control Policy Office of the White House.

It starts at 7:30 p.m. Officials will talk about community resources and law enforcement resources. Maloney will also take questions from constituents, who will have the chance to leave a message with questions or thoughts at the end of the conversation.

“I’m calling for all-hands-on-deck," he said in a statement. "The heroin epidemic in the Hudson Valley is killing our children, devastating our communities, and ripping apart the families of friends and neighbors—we must confront this issue head-on. We must ensure that the law enforcement officials who are working to get drugs off the streets have the resources they need and that community organizations focused on prevention and treatment have our full support.”

Residents from the 18th Congressional district will receive an invitation by telephone to join the conference call. Invitations may be requested by emailing a name and complete phone number to ny18townhall@mail.house.gov, calling Maloney's Washington office at 202-225-5441, or signing up here. Anyone unable to participate in the call may call the congressman's office with comments, or send them via his website, Facebook or Twitter.

This past year, Maloney secured $625,000 for five local organizations to combat substance abuse, his office said.

For more Patch coverage on the heroin epidemic, see the following posts:

Dalton 22 February 27, 2014 at 07:11 PM
Here's a crazy idea. How about people take some responsibility for their own lives and don't do drugs that will kill them. Real tired about hearing its a disease and an illness. A child with cancer is an illness. People that use drugs are addicts with no self control who only care about themselves and expect a parade when they get sober.
Carolyn Adams February 28, 2014 at 07:12 AM
Maybe this will affect you when someone breaks into your home and steals your valuables in order to buy drugs. When something is labeled an epidemic it means that it impacts society as a whole not just the individuals who 'choose' to do drugs. I certainly don't have the answers and didn't participate in the Town Hall, but if all it did was educate people about the issue, then it's a start. At least we're not burying our heads in the sand.
Carolyn Adams February 28, 2014 at 07:24 AM
And I'll be real curious to see what Hollywood's reaction is to this problem vis a vis the Oscars. Having lost 2 of their own to heroin overdoses in the past year, I would love to see them be proactive in taking a stand on this topic. But I doubt they will.
jo February 28, 2014 at 07:25 AM
education about the "evils" of drugs has been around forever.. if folks don't get it by now, I have no hope they ever will.. take the drugs ..suffer the consequences ..

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