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Assemblyman Jones secures funding and introduces legislation to combat substance abuse in the North Country

From the Office of Assemblyman Bill Jones

Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) announced he secured $20,000 for Champlain Valley Family Center for Drug Treatment and Youth Services, Inc. in support of its Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery of Clinton County (SPARCC) program. Jones has also introduced legislation that would provide employers with a tax break for hiring people in recovery. (A.8830)

“The opioid epidemic has fractured families and communities across the country, including here in the North Country,” Jones said. “This funding will provide vital services to help more people get the treatment they need to get on and stay on the road to recovery.”

SPARCC was formed in 2016 to raise public awareness and expand local opioid addiction prevention services. The program recognizes substance abuse as an illness rather than a crime– a belief that Jones shares. Jones also noted that, in an effort to encourage more people to seek treatment and end the stigma around dependence, SPARCC is seeking volunteers to share their recovery stories.

Jones new bill will create a tax credit for employers that hire those who are in recovery with an Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services approved rehabilitation center.  Over the last few years, the state has allocated additional funds to help combat this epidemic that has a stronghold on thousands of New Yorkers. Despite beginning the road to recovery, given their history, the majority of these people are often not considered worthy applicants in the workforce. By gaining steady employment during the recovery process, individuals are more likely to complete their recovery and maintain a sober, healthy lifestyle.

Senator Betty Little, who has advocated for expanded substance abuse treatment in the North Country, said she will introduce a “same as” bill and work to build support for it in the Senate.

“For addicts on the road to recovery, a job provides structure, purpose, a sense of accomplishment and validation they are moving in the right direction,” said Little.  “For employers, they may have an understandable concern hiring someone in treatment.  This program would provide an incentive in the form of a tax credit that I am hopeful will help, and it would be run through OASAS, who have the expertise to know which clients are ready for the responsibility of a job.”

The opioid crisis had led to sharp increases in the number of patient visits to hospitals over the last 10 years, as the number of opioid-related inpatient stays has risen by 64.1 percent from 2005 to 2014. Opioid-related visits to emergency rooms increased by 99.4 percent during that same time period.[1]  Locally, there have been 72 confirmed accidental overdose cases in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties since 2010.[2]

“No one should be afraid to come forward and get the help they need,” Jones said. “This disease is a serious issue that needs to be recognized instead of stigmatized. With this funding and support, people battling addiction will have a critical support system.”

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