The Empire State is getting a much-needed boost in funding to combat the overdose crisis that’s been claiming more and more of its residents. Last Thursday Governor Cuomo announced plans to allocate an additional $8.1 million in funding for the beleaguered state in hopes of curtailing widespread addiction and subsequent overdose. The funding will go to support 80 new treatment beds and 600 new medication-assisted treatment slots in a state where many are wait-listed for treatment. These delays are often the difference between vulnerable New Yorkers getting the help they need and languishing in a devastating cycle of addiction and desperation.
Officials are optimistic that these new treatment facilities will increase access and prevent the same kinds of overdoses that have torn apart families all over the state. To date, New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has lifted treatment capacity limits at 11 OTPs across the state, and opened new programs in Albany, Bronx, Buffalo, Peekskill, Plattsburgh, Syracuse, Rome and Watertown. New OTPs will open in the coming year in Utica, Oswego and Troy. OASAS has funded family support navigators, peer engagement specialists, adolescent clubhouses, recovery centers, and prevention resource centers to help aggressively address substance use disorders, including addiction to opioids.
Governor Cuomo has made substance abuse and overdose a priority, and says he will continue to do so for the duration of his term. It’s important, however, that prevention and education be supplemented at the community level as well. In a climate where there is a direct and explicit overdose epidemic killing our friends and family members, it’s up to all of us to do whatever we can to mobilize and make sure we’re equipped as best as possible to protect the vulnerable people we care about. An extra $8 million goes a long way, but so does a concerned ear and vigilant eye.