April 22nd, 2016
Last night, the New York City mayor’s office released data on 2015 overdose mortality rates and announced $5.5 million in emergency funds to combat the opioid crisis.
Fatal opioid overdoses jumped by 10 percent in 2015, the fifth straight year of increases. The total number of lethal drug overdoses in NYC was 886, with the highest rates in the Bronx.
“The City is building on concerted efforts to train doctors and counselors treating substance abuse, increase testing for synthetic opioids, and provide greater public awareness around drug use prevention and treatment,” said de Blasio’s statement. “Ending stigmatization and providing a path to recovery is vital to keeping New Yorkers healthy and safe.”
Activists and a few lawmakers praised the mayor for bringing attention to the issue, but they’re demanding a more concrete and imaginative plan—including the introduction of supervised injection facilities.
“We’ve seen the evidence and it’s overwhelming… There simply has never been a fatal overdose at a supervised injection facility anywhere in the world,” said Corey Johnson, New York City council member and chair of the Committee on Health. “Not only that, studies consistently show they reduce the number of deaths in the community and connect people to badly needed health care.”
Advocates continued to stress the importance of harm reduction during this week’s UNGASS summit on drug policy.
“When I was homeless and injecting heroin under the Manhattan Bridge, having a SIF would have stopped me from becoming infected with HIV and given me the help I needed to become well,”said Shantae Owens, a member of VOCAL-NY. “I really appreciate the mayor’s announcement today, which included smart investments in peer programs, research, and harm reduction services, but we have to go a step further and allow SIFs. We have to stop this needless suffering.”