News from the New York State
Assembly Committee on
Alcoholism and
Drug Abuse
Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair • Summer 2006

Message from the Chair

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
I am pleased to share with you news from the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Much has been accomplished during this legislative session. Through my efforts, Speaker Sheldon Silver, our committee and the Assembly Majority, millions of dollars in cuts that were proposed by the Governor in this year’s Executive Budget were restored and thousands of people will have access to the treatment that they need to overcome their addictions.

During the 2006 Session, I hosted several public hearings and forums in order to get input on the issues that concern the field. One of the most pressing issues is that of prescription drug abuse. We held a hearing in New York City on this topic which generated a strong response and made it clear that action needs to be taken. The forum that I held in Albany, Does Substance Abuse Treatment Save the State Money?, made it clear that when the state invests in substance abuse treatment, it will save money in other areas and will spend less overall. I am hopeful that appropriate funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention can lead to a reduction in the costs 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 hopeful that we can be even more successful in the future.

Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair
Assembly Committee on
Alcoholism & Drug Abuse

2006-2007 Budget

After weeks of round the clock negotiations, the Assembly passed a state budget that provides much-needed funding for persons with chemical dependence, mental illness or development disabilities.

The budget process was a long battle, but in the end the Assembly prevailed in the fight to provide funds to the programs and the people across New York State who provide care to our most vulnerable neighbors and family members and who help people struggling with addiction become responsible citizens again.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz delivers the Mental Hygeine Conference Committee Report.

Among the budget items successfully negotiated by the Assembly were:

  • A 2.5% cost of living adjustment for direct care workers in the human services fields. This critical funding will help increase the salaries of people who provide direct care to New York’s most vulnerable citizens. The workers who provide this hands-on level of care to the handicapped, elderly and sick in our communities are to be commended for the hard work they do, and the Assembly was successful in its efforts to ensure that many of these dedicated men and women will see their wages begin to reflect their dedication and commitment. This was subsequently vetoed by the Governor, but the veto was overridden by the Legislature.

  • $500,000 for Co-occurring Disorders Demonstrations Projects. These critical new programs will help provide coordinated care for persons suffering from co-occurring disorders—both chemical dependence and mental illness. Many people who have chemical dependence and mental health problems do not get the treatment they need for both disorders. Assemblyman Dinowitz proposed these new projects to help ensure that no one slips through the cracks by not receiving all the care and assistance they need to become productive members of society again.

  • $800,000 for Methamphetamine Treatment and Prevention Demonstration Projects. Building upon the success of the anti-methamphetamine programs that Assemblyman Dinowitz proposed and the Assembly funded in last year’s budget, the Assembly was successful this year in expanding the availability of funding to help fight the growing scourge of methamphetamine abuse. The Assembly’s continuing, proactive efforts have been critical in preventing methamphetamine abuse from ravaging New York State as it has in so many other states.

  • $2,000,000 for Restoration of the Personal Needs Allowance (PNA). The Assembly corrected a huge misstep in the Governor’s budget by restoring his cut to the personal needs allowance of people suffering from chemical dependence. This funding is critical for persons fighting addiction and mental illness who are struggling to get their lives back on track and to become successful, productive members of society again. This cut helps to pay for personal items like clothes and hygiene products as well as transportation. This cut would have reduced the PNA from $135 to $45. Chairman Dinowitz made this a top budget priority.

  • $1,035,000 restoration of a statewide cut to addiction treatment and prevention services proposed by Governor Pataki. Without this restoration, agencies in our communities that are providing much-needed treatment to addicted persons would have struggled immensely, as they already are forced to get by on a shoestring budget. This was subsequently vetoed by the Governor, but overridden by the Legislature.

Rochester Trip
Dinowitz Speaks at Legislative Breakfast in Rochester

photo Pictured, top row (left to right): Carl Hatch, President of Region II CASAS; John Coppola, Executive Director of ASAP; Chris Wilkins, Vice President DePaul Addiction Services; Marty Teller, Chair of Region II CASAS Public Policy Committee. Bottom row: Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy; Assemblymen Dinowitz, David Koon and Joe Errigo; and Jennifer Faringer, Vice President of Region II CASAS.

photo Pictured from left to right: Jennifer Faringer, Vice President of Region II CASAS; Deputy Chief James Shepard, Rochester Police Department (RPD); Assemblyman Dinowitz; Carl Hatch, President Finger Lakes CASAS; Sgt. Thomas Meehan, RPD.

photo Pictured are Assemblyman Dinowitz and DePaul Addiction Services President Chris Wilkins.

Assemblyman Dinowitz, Chairman of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, delivered the keynote address at the annual Legislative Breakfast of the Region II Consortium of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. In attendance along with Assemblyman Dinowitz at the breakfast were Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, Assemblymembers David Koon, Susan John, and Joseph Errigo.

Assemblyman Dinowitz highlighted the successes of last year’s budget process, such as restoring $3.1 million to New York City School Prevention Programs, securing $300,000 for methamphetamine prevention and education, and enacting comprehensive legislation into law to combat the use and manufacture of methamphetamine.

He pointed out that adolescent treatment centers need funding to capture those clients who do not meet Medicaid eligibility requirements and whose families cannot afford treatment. There also needs to be compensation for expenses relating to treatment centers complying with drug court mandates.

Assemblyman Dinowitz discussed the Governor’s proposed budget, particularly the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance’s cut to the PNA allowance from $135 to $45. He reiterated his concern about the methamphetamine problem, as all indicators point toward New York being next in line to be hit hard by an increase in methamphetamine use, and discussed the continued fight to secure more money for meth prevention and education.

The Assemblyman concluded by discussing the importance of addressing the issue of co-occurring disorders. With a high percentage of clients having both addiction and mental health problems it is essential for the field to effectively manage these clients to ensure the best possible treatment outcomes.

Assemblyman Dinowitz toured the Crescent area of Rochester with Rochester Police Department Deputy Chief James Shepard, who discussed the department’s police and community-based initiatives in the Crescent. The Chief pointed out areas within the high crime area where the department has made inroads in reducing crime. New housing has brought stability and patrolling heavily those areas where crime is rampant has proven successful.

He visited several treatment facilities around Rochester, including Cody House of East House, a half-way house where male residents stay for four to six months. Clients expressed the need to maintain the personal needs allowance which the Governor proposed to be cut. They explained that this money is not wasted but is used for many essentials, such as soap, toothpaste and public transportation.

He met with residents of Catholic Freedom House (CFH) and Liberty Manor. The CFH is a 6-month treatment program for 30 men, most of whom have hit rock bottom and have no other place to turn to for help. Liberty Manor is also a six-month residential substance abuse treatment program but is unique in its clientele. Liberty Manor has beds for 15 women and 5 preschool-aged children. It gives priority to pregnant women, who may continue treatment after giving birth.

The next stop was an outpatient treatment program at Huther Doyle. The Assemblyman had a chance to hear from clients who were part of the Intensive Outpatient Program, which meets for three hours, three times a week, focusing on education of the disease/recovery process and overcoming denial and identifying relapse triggers that have blocked recovery.

The last visit on the tour was DePaul Addiction Services, including its medically supervised detox and inpatient rehabilitation center. DePaul also offers outpatient services and community residential services; to help clients transition into the community, DePaul operates assisted living apartments. The Assemblyman concluded the tour by presenting a check for $42,857.00 to DePaul’s President Chris Wilkins and staff for methamphetamine prevention and education initiatives.

Significant Legislation

photo The ASAP Board. Pictured from left to right are: Richard Pruss, Samaritan Village; Patti Juliana, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Division of Substance Abuse; Kathy Ayers-Lanzillotta, Catholic Charities Diocese of Rockville Center; John Coppola - Executive Director, New York State Association of Alcoholism and Substance Providers; Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz; Chris Wilkins, DePaul Addiction Services; Henry Bartlett, Committee of Methadone Program Administrators of New York State; Ira Marion, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Chemical Dependence Bill of Rights (A. 9766, Dinowitz): This bill that would improve existing statute by enumerating in one place a number of rights specific to persons in chemical dependence treatment. It would also mandate that all such persons receive a copy of these rights upon admission to a treatment program. It is essential that a stigmatized group such as persons suffering from chemical dependency be entitled to the same type of rights and protections that are afforded to persons seeking other forms of medical care. Clearly enumerating the rights that persons in treatment are entitled to will help to provide essential protections to a vulnerable population. This bill passed the Assembly and awaiting action by the Senate.

Regulating Recovery Housing on Long Island (A.10322-C, Fields): In order to facilitate their successful recovery, there is a significant need for drug and alcohol-free housing options for persons recovering from chemical dependence. One such option is the "recovery home," which is an unsupervised group home for persons who have progressed enough in their recovery that they can live in the community, but still require the support of others in the same or similar situation. While many recovery homes are well run and effective, some are not therapeutic and can in fact be injurious to the recovery of the occupants and the neighborhoods in which the homes are located. This bill sets up a pilot program to target the issue of recovery homes in Suffolk County, where the largest number of the homes are located. This important initiative will help ensure that these homes are rigorously inspected and monitored, in order to protect both the residents who live there and the communities where the homes are located.

photo Pictured from left to right are: A. Thomas McLellan, Founder and Executive Director of the Treatment Research Institute; Ken Stark, Director of Alcohol and Substance Abuse in Washington State; and Assemblyman Dinowitz.

Geriatric Chemical Dependency Act (A. 11243, Englebright): The misuse and abuse of alcohol and prescribed and over-the-counter drugs is a serious health problem among older Americans, affecting up to seventeen percent of those aged sixty and older. Yet many seniors suffering from chemical dependence or abuse are not diagnosed, and those that are diagnosed too often are not appropriately treated. There are multiple barriers that hinder diagnosis and treatment of this population, including the fact that symptoms of chemical dependence mimic medical and behavioral disorders common to older adults; seniors are often resistant to discuss chemical dependence problems due to stigmas; and the increasing limitations on health care services by managed care plans to Medicare patients. Furthermore, most treatment programs are geared toward a younger population and there is little or no geriatric-specific training for chemical dependence counselors, mental health practitioners, and primary care physicians. In preparation for the enormous growth of the senior population in New York State, a comprehensive, coordinated approach to recognizing and effectively treating chemical dependence among seniors is essential. The Assembly will take up this legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Dinowitz, Aging Committee Chair Steve Englebright, Assemblywoman Vivian Cook and others.

Committee Outlook

•  The committee is considering legislation that would put certified addiction counselors in hospital emergency rooms. Due to the astronomically high costs that result from drug abuse, drunk driving, etc., it would make good sense, both fiscally and medically, to have experts on hand in emergency rooms who can determine if a patient’s injuries or illnesses came as a direct result of drug or alcohol abuse. Patients suffering from addiction could be referred into appropriate treatment, the first step on their path to recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction.

•  The committee is exploring a concept that has been very successful in a number of states, so-called recovery schools. These specialized schools would allow young people who have been in trouble with drugs or alcohol in the past to learn in an atmosphere free of the constant temptation to turn to chemical abuse that so many of today’s children are forced to deal with. Massachusetts has had great success with this type of special school, and the committee is studying whether a similar model might be successful here in New York.

•  The committee is also attempting to formulate a uniform, statewide data collection system that would allow the state to track drug-related deaths. A database of the sort envisioned by the committee would fill a void. We do not have a system in place to monitor how many deaths occur in each area of the state that are related to the different types of drugs. By collecting and disseminating this information, the state will be better able to specifically target drug treatment, prevention and law enforcement funding in the areas that need them the most.

Pictured at the Committee’s first meeting of 2006 are Assemblymembers Thomas McKevitt, Linda Rosenthal, Crystal Peoples, Charles Lavine, Carmen Arroyo, Jeffrey Dinowitz, David Koon, Adriano Espaillat, Diane Gordon, and Sylvia Friedman.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
Chair, New York State Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse
Room 627 LOB • Albany, NY 12248
518-455-5965 •

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