News from the New York State
Assembly Committee on
Alcoholism and
Drug Abuse

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair • August 2005

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz

Message from the Chair

I am pleased to share with you news from the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. As I look back on the recently-concluded 2005 legislative session, I have a sense of déjà vu about several things. Once again I’m disappointed that Governor Pataki has not been supportive of efforts to bring quality chemical abuse treatment to people in our communities who desperately need it. In his 2005 budget submission to the legislature, the Governor slashed millions of dollars from agencies on the front lines of the battle against substance abuse. Fortunately, due to the diligent efforts of the Assembly Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly Majority, we were able to restore millions of dollars of critical funding for the field. I am very proud of our efforts in the Assembly to turn a horrible proposed budget into a more positive one. I’m hopeful that as Governor Pataki bids farewell to public office and a new Governor arrives after the next election, the State will begin to focus more on cleaning up our state and helping people get off drugs.

During 2005, I hosted several public hearings and roundtable discussions to give citizens the opportunity to comment on the state’s role in funding substance abuse services, and we heard from many individuals, families and organizations who are stakeholders in the fight against addiction. Their message was overwhelmingly clear – fighting substance abuse DOES matter. With your support, we will continue to make a positive impact on the lives of New Yorkers who suffer from the horrors of addiction. My goal continues to be securing appropriate funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention – to make our communities safer and keep our families together, and to reduce the terrible cost that addiction places on our healthcare, criminal justice and welfare systems.

I look forward to working with substance abuse treatment and prevention providers to build on the Assembly’s longstanding commitment to helping fight substance abuse, and I am certain that together we will achieve success on this critical issue.

NYS Seal

Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair
Assembly Committee on
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

Successful Negotiation of the State Budget

Heeding the public’s call for reform in Albany, the 2005 state budget was the first on-time budget in twenty years, reversing decades of lateness and acrimony. Part of the reform included budget conference committees which were made up of members of both houses of the Legislature; as a result, the budget negotiated by the Assembly and Senate ensures quality health care, eases the burden on local taxpayers and enhances the state’s investment in education. The Committee was particularly successful this year in meeting its priorities. Assemblyman Dinowitz helped negotiate one of the most successful budgets for the Committee in recent memory. The budget included a restoration of $1 million for community-based programs and monies for specific programs throughout New York State. The assemblyman successfully restored $3.1 million for NYC school-based prevention programs and earmarked $300,000 specifically to address the growing crisis of methamphetamine use.

Restoring Funding to NYC
School-Based Prevention Program

One of the most important actions taken by the Committee and by the Assembly Majority during the 2005 session was the restoration of $3.1 million to the NYC schools. Back in January, when Governor Pataki released his budget proposal, one of the most shocking cuts he made was the elimination of funding to the NYC school-based drug and alcohol prevention program. This program, which brings critical anti-drug education to children across NYC, was apparently deemed irrelevant and unnecessary by the Governor. The members of the Committee and the Assembly Majority were adamant that keeping our kids off drugs is a TOP priority. Assemblyman Dinowitz was instrumental in restoring the $3.1 million for NYC schools.

Western New York Welcomes
Assemblyman Dinowitz

Earlier this year Assemblyman Dinowitz was proud to be the keynote speaker at the 2005 Legislative Breakfast sponsored by the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. The legislative breakfast, entitled “A Celebration of Hope, Health and Healing,” was an excellent event, attended by many of Western New York’s public servants, including Assemblymembers Sam Hoyt and Senators Mary Lou Rath and William Stachowski. Assemblyman Dinowitz thanks the host of the breakfast, Jan Duffey, Executive Director of ECCPASA.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz is welcomed by the Native American Magnet School in Buffalo.

photo Committee Chair Jeffrey Dinowitz met with a host of addiction prevention and treatment providers from Western NY while visiting Renaissance House.

After the breakfast, Assemblyman Dinowitz visited several Western New York chemical dependence treatment and prevention programs and had the opportunity to meet with several persons who are doing important work in the field of alcoholism and drug abuse in western New York: Professor William F. Wieczorek, Director of the Center for Health & Social Research at SUNY’s Buffalo State; Dr. Robert B. Whitney, Clinical Director of the Division of Chemical Dependency unit at Erie County Medical Center; and Marlene A. Schillinger, Executive Director of Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County, which operates a gambling recovery program.

The first stop on the journey was Renaissance House in Buffalo, the first long-term residence program in Western New York to help chemically dependent 12-18 year-olds who are unable to benefit from outpatient treatment. Dick Gallagher, the well-known and innovative executive director of the Foundation, hosted Assemblyman Dinowitz at Renaissance House. Assemblyman Dinowitz was impressed not only with the outstanding physical facilities, but also the sophistication of the services and the dedication of the staff.

From Renaissance House Assemblyman Dinowitz moved on to visit a prevention program supervised by ECCPASA, an in-class program at the Native American Magnet School #19 in Buffalo. During the visit to school #19 Assemblyman Dinowitz sat in on a class taking part in the “Talking Circle Workbook” program, designed to teach essential life skills to young people using the talking circle format. In many Native American cultures, a “talking circle” is formed when a community wants to discuss an issue, or a number of issues, at a public gathering. The SAPC program utilizes traditional Native American methods to enhance insight and increase awareness, empowering students to make healthy life decisions regarding alcohol, drugs and violence. Assemblyman Dinowitz thanks the staff and students at Native American Magnet School #19 for allowing him to sit in on their wonderful and insightful program.

Next on the tour was Horizon Village, a not-for-profit, 50-bed residential program for the treatment of drug addiction. Assemblyman Dinowitz met with Anne D. Constantino, President and CEO of Horizon Health Services, Maria Rivett, VP of Program Development of Horizon Health Services, and Page Prentice, Director of Horizon Village. One of Horizon Village’s treatments that piqued Assemblyman Dinowitz’s curiosity was acupuncture. This treatment is becoming more common. It produces a calming effect in people, enhancing a person’s ability to fully absorb treatment. While touring Horizon Village, Assemblyman Dinowitz got a glimpse of the location of a new and exciting development about to take place. Horizon is planning to add a new wing designed to provide women specific recovery services. This is important, as Horizon provides in-patient treatment services for both women and men. Co-habitation of men and women can be extremely challenging, so Horizon’s new wing is a much-anticipated addition to its treatment facility.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz and Assemblywoman Ginny Fields receive Recognition Awards at the annual meeting of the Suffolk County Coalition to Prevent Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.

Fighting the Scourge of Methamphetamine

A growing crisis facing New York State is the abuse of methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, orally ingested and/or injected, and commonly comes in a powder form that resembles granulated crystals and in a rock form known as “ice.” Chronic methamphetamine abuse can lead to psychotic behavior, including intense paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and out-of-control rages that can result in violent episodes. Chronic users at times develop sores on their bodies from scratching at “crank bugs,” delusions that bugs are crawling under the skin. Long-term use of methamphetamine may result in anxiety, insomnia, addiction, violence and even death.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz chairs the Emergency Methamphetamine Summit in Albany.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz convened a meeting with top law enforcement officials in the war on methamphetamine in New York. The Assemblyman is pictured here with Assemblyman David Koon from the Rochester area and Sheriff Gary Howard and State Police Captain Richard Nuzzo.

Methamphetamine (or “meth”) has been a serious problem in the western and central parts of the US for decades, but recently it has begun to spread into New York State. Assemblyman Dinowitz made addressing the problem of meth the top priority for the 2005 session. Before session began, the Committee held a public hearing on methamphetamine and hepatitis C with Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health. Once session commenced, the Committee began to hear from law enforcement officers and others about the growing problem of meth in New York. Arrests of meth dealers were on the rise in the Southern Tier of New York State, as well as in New York City, where meth was becoming popular as a “club drug.”

In order to address the meth problem before it got out of hand like crack cocaine did in the 1980s, the Committee convened an Emergency Methamphetamine Summit in Albany. The summit drew participants from across New York State, all of whom had a stake in combating the growing meth crisis. Participants included the New York State Commission on Investigation, substance abuse treatment providers, chain drug store reps, AIDS service providers, law enforcement, and others. The meth problem was discussed in detail, and the groundwork was laid for one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by the Assembly and Senate during the 2005 session.

This critical piece of legislation was a bill authored by Assemblyman Dinowitz to help crack down on the manufacturing and use of methamphetamine in New York. By passing this legislation, the Assembly took important PROACTIVE steps to combat this growing menace. Current law creates too many difficulties for law enforcement agencies who investigate methamphetamine lab sites, because, in most cases, if no final drug product is recovered – but there is other evidence that a meth lab exists – police are unable to make a felony arrest. This bill amends state statute to permit law enforcement to make an arrest when they discover an illegal meth lab. It also makes illegal the possession of certain ingredients that are necessary for the manufacture of methamphetamine, when they are possessed with intent to manufacture the drug.

Additional provisions within the bill provide a statewide repository of data to help law enforcement with ongoing investigations, implement a statewide methamphetamine education program that will inform children and others on the risks of methamphetamine use and production, as well as facilitate cooperation between the state police and the department of environmental cooperation as they work together to clean up lab sites.

Passage of this landmark legislation by Assemblyman Dinowitz is a huge victory for the people of New York State in the battle to combat drug abuse and addiction.

Working to Improve
Compulsive Gambling Treatment

Thousands of New Yorkers are afflicted with an addiction that we’re only just beginning to understand the extent and dangers of — compulsive gambling. Compulsive gambling is a progressive behavior disorder in which an individual has a psychologically uncontrollable preoccupation and urge to gamble. This results in excessive gambling, the outcome of which is the loss of productive time and money. Unless treated, the gambling will reach the point where it compromises, disrupts and then destroys the gambler’s personal life, family relationships and vocational pursuits. These problems, in turn, further intensify the gambling behavior.

To improve the efficiency of New York State’s growing compulsive gambling treatment network, the Committee oversaw the transfer of authority to develop and regulate plans, programs and services related to compulsive gambling from the State Office of Mental Health (OMH) to the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Under this change, OASAS would be authorized to credential compulsive gambling counselors and to develop rules and regulations requiring the Racing and Wagering Board and Lottery Division to post signs in appropriate sites advising where to get help for compulsive gambling.

Since OASAS is an agency that deals primarily with addiction, moving authority of programs relating to gambling addiction from OMH to OASAS was an appropriate action that will lay the groundwork for a renewed focus on compulsive gambling treatment.

Advancing Important Legislation

Omnibus Methamphetamine Bill
(A.9002 – Dinowitz)

This bill imposes significant criminal penalties upon persons who operate or assist in the operation of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories and increase criminal penalties for the theft of, or possession of, stolen anhydrous ammonia. The bill also provides for the collection and dissemination of information related to methamphetamine manufacture and abuse to law enforcement agencies. This bill has been signed by the governor.


Overdose Prevention
(A.7162A – Dinowitz)

This bill accomplishes three important things with respect to opioid overdose prevention. It would require the State Department of Health to establish standards of opioid overdose prevention programs, would establish opioid antagonists, like Narcan, as first aid or emergency treatment, and would also require DOH to publish findings on statewide opioid overdose data. This bill has been signed by the governor.

Executive Advisory Council on Underage Alcohol Consumption
(A.1473 – Dinowitz)

The Committee passed a bill to create an Executive Advisory Council on Underage Alcohol Consumption that would receive, study and analyze information with respect to incidents of underage alcohol consumption; identify and analyze the responses to underage drinking made by government officials; conduct public hearings; and make recommendations on educational programs, on training programs for law enforcement officials and prosecutors, and on the appropriateness and effectiveness of existing civil and criminal laws.


Treatment Demonstration Programs for the Elderly
(A.2652 – Cook)

This bill would require the State Office for the Aging (SOFA) and the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) to develop alcoholism prevention, education and treatment demonstration programs for the elderly. SOFA, in consultation with OASAS, would be required to solicit requests for proposals from local governments or voluntary not-for-profit agencies wishing to receive grants to administer these demonstration projects.

Regulating “Sober Homes”
(A.7157 – Fields)

The Committee passed a bill that would enact provisions for the siting, licensing and regulation of “substance abuse houses” or “sober homes,” temporary residences and treatment facilities for persons recovering from alcohol or substance abuse. Sober homes can be an excellent resource for recovering alcoholics on the path to becoming productive members of society, and this bill will help ensure these homes are properly run.

Prohibiting the Sale and Purchase of Urine with the Intent to Defraud Drug Screening Tests
(A.244 – Destito)

This bill would make it illegal for any person to donate, purchase or transport urine in this state for the purposes of defrauding a drug screening.

Reimburse Providers of Emergency Services
(A.5158 – Dinowitz)

This bill, which passed both the Assembly and the Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature, authorizes payments to health care providers for emergency services rendered for injuries incurred as a result of the operation of a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition.


Reimburse Any Provider of Emergency Services
(A.8512 – Dinowitz)

This new bill, co-written with Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine from Long Island, would allow courts to order a person convicted of intoxicated driving to reimburse any provider of emergency services such as police, ambulance, or firefighting services, for costs incurred by emergency response resulting from the incidence of intoxicated driving.

Photos, from top to bottom: 1. Assemblyman Dinowitz visited Dynamite Youth Services in Brooklyn. Pictured with the Assemblyman are Executive Director Bill Fusco, Dynamite staffers James Schneider and Karen Carlini and two of the program’s participants. 2. Assemblyman Dinowitz participated in the ribbon cutting of VIP Community Services’s Albert Walsh Apartments in the Bronx. The new development was created for families who are homeless. Assemblyman Dinowitz helps cut the ribbon with VIP’s President, Sandra Ruiz Butter, and many others including Assemblyman Michael Benjamin and the Walsh family. 3. Assemblyman Dinowitz meets with the leadership of the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair
Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
New York State Assembly

Room 627 LOB
Albany, NY 12248

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