VALHALLA, N.Y. -- With the heroin problem continuing to plague the Hudson Valley, Sen. Terrence Murphy unveiled a seven-point plan to combat the drug at a forum Jan. 29 at Mount Pleasant Town Hall in Valhalla.
The forum was attended by County Legislator Michael Smith, Mount Pleasant Schools Superintendent Susan Guiney and Susan and Steve Salomone of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard in Carmel, among others.
"This is really an epidemic in the Hudson Valley region," Murphy said.
Murphy said Westchester and Putnam were among 28 counties in the county labelled for having high intensity drug trafficking.
"No family is immune," Murphy said. "This impacts all races and all genders. I'm here to help, I'm here to shed light on it. Since 2012, there has been an 100 percent increase in deaths. It's completely unacceptable."
The senator said his goal is to go back to Albany to craft legislation. Murphy's plan includes requiring insurance companies to cover treatment and rehab up to 90 days, using drug seizure money toward Narcan training, provide more funding for school resource officers and DARE programs and increasing penalties for narcotic traffickers.
Ellen Morehouse, director of Student Assistant Services, said kids often take heroin because they need painkillers and their families can't afford it or they get bored smoking marijuana.
"We need to start identifying these people early on and giving them the support to stop," Morehouse said. "We need better access to mental health services."
Colleen Griffin Wagner, trustee in the Village of Pleasantville, said technology is not being utilized effectively to fight heroin.
"A lot of these kids know someone who is in trouble, but they don't know what to do," Griffin Wagner said. "We need to put together a phone line or text line, so kids know who to call. The information on drug laws is hard to find."
Al Morales, a Yorktown resident, said they hope more people attend forums like this.
"I'm surprised we don't have a line going out the door," Morales said. "There's still not enough people interested."