New bill aimed at battling opioid crisis gets mixed reviews from community

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WHITE PLAINS -

The New York Senate has approved Stephen's Law, a measure aimed at battling the opioid crisis.

Seven years ago, Carol Christiansen's son was out of treatment for less than a week when he overdosed on heroin.

Stephen's Law would require addiction treatment providers to contact predesignated loved ones when someone undergoing treatment shows potentially life-threatening behavior, such as a relapse.

Sen. Pete Harckham is a co-sponsor of the bill. It is named for Stephen Canastraro, of Buffalo, who died of an overdose last year, two days after testing positive for fentanyl and oxycodone. The Senate approved the measure Monday.

"If my son was in treatment and I got a phone call from a professional provider who said, 'We did a workup on his blood and we see there's high contents of fentanyl and heroin,' I would have been down there immediately to get him right back in and get him the right treatments," says Christiansen.

Dr. Ross Fishman disagrees. Fishman is the president of Innovative Health Systems, a treatment facility in White Plains. He says the legislation doesn't help the patient.

"People coming in to treatment continue to use for a period of time," says Fishman. "We have lots of patients who test positive, sometimes frequently, sometimes infrequently, that's not a life-threatening situation."

But Christiansen supports any push to crack down on the opioid epidemic.

"Nobody, no other family, parent should go through what I went through of losing a child," she says.

The bill will now move to the state Assembly.

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