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Killers and pain: Painkiller law sends users to heroin

They started turning up in emergency rooms early last November. One after another and then another. By the time the torrent subsided in February, some 280 people had overdosed in Dutchess County from what many believed was heroin but was often street drugs laced with an exponentially stronger narcotic called fentanyl.

The overdoses and deaths are part of a longer-term resurgence of heroin, a street drug that has become plentiful, is cheap, and was, in this case, tainted. But as the dust settled and the rash of patients in cardiac and respiratory distress slowed — it most certainly has not stopped — something else became painfully clear.

This particular run on drugs was not driven just by some faraway drug lord hawking a crop of potent poppies. However inadvertently, it was abetted by a law, passed 174-0 by the New York State Legislature, that last August stanched the supply of pain medications to which thousands of New Yorkers were and are addicted.

Read the full story in the Poughkeepsie Journal here.

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