BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - The largest public health emergency in a generation is what one group is calling the opioid epidemic.
Yesterday, advocates in Albany outlined ways the state can address the issue, including using marijuana tax revenues as a way to fund some of these programs.
NewsChannel 34's Morgan McKay explains more.
Carmen: I lost control of my life, and I ended up going to jail and I'm on drug court and here I am trying to recover my life back.
Carmen Ayala says she fought hard to find her way through recovery, and now that she made it to the other side she explains the many challenges she had to face to get through the process.
Carmen: Hospitals wouldn't take me if I wasn't withdrawn enough, if you don't rate a certain number with your pulse being taken. You can wait 14 hours in the hospital room and not be taken.
According to the state Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, funding for substance abuse programs has barely kept up with the rate of inflation, while the addiction rates continue to rise.
Coppola: some of the folks standing behind me, how frequently were they turned away from programs because there was not an open bed or because there were 15 open beds or 5 open beds or no staff available to staff those beds and provide the treatment
Avi: In Western New York we have just a few inpatient facilities and they are constantly full
Today the group outlined ways the state can invest back into these programs and provide incentives to people in recovery.
They say it first starts with investing back into the treatment staff that are highly underpaid. Then they laid out ways these programs can be funded including tax revenue from legalizing marijuana, the opioid surcharge fund and by using medicaid to allow for more access to medication assisted treatment.
Coppola: If we're going to create a roadmap out of this crisis, it has to rely very heavily on a workforce that is adequate to meet the needs of the people that need help.
According to the Center for Disease Control, just last year around 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses.