The state of New York is funding an expansion of mobile addiction treatment and transportation services, with more than 20 vehicles having been purchased by nine providers across the state, and more expected later this year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said more than $1.6 million has been made available to providers to purchase vehicles.
Cuomo said the state “is doing everything in its power to expand treatment options and resources to anyone seeking to get on the road to recovery.”
Providers have purchased and outfitted several different types of vehicles, such as mobile clinics, which provide telepractice capabilities and exam rooms; mini-mobile clinics, which offer telepractice, without a full exam room; and vehicles to use for either transportation of staff to deliver services or to transport clients to clinics.
The vehicles purchased include cars to transport addicts to treatment and vans which can be equipped as mobile clinics, and equipped to use telemedicine to deliver counseling services.
Late last year, the state received $25 million in federal funds to help fight the opioid addiction epidemic. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said one of the state’s priorities is extending services to addicts who live in rural areas where treatment is an hour or two away.
“Someone in a rural area is not going to take two hours off work to drive to a facility,” Hochul said. “I’ve heard that. Whether it’s Watertown or Plattsburgh, these are the people where the addictions continue to grow because the treatment is not available.”
The funds are targeted to help 16 upstate counties that have the greatest need for additional resources, based on overdose and hospitalization statistics. Along with adding mobile treatment vehicles, the state also plans to expand the use of telemedicine to reach willing addicts in need of treatment services.
State lawmakers are considering proposed regulations to authorize payments to credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors who provide services in Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) -approved settings via telepractice.
The services are targeted at “the people who want to get help,” Hochul said. “They’re the ones who said ‘I’m willing to show up somewhere’, but if it’s a matter of accessibility, if there’s not a center in walking distance or in their own community and they have to travel, they’re not going to do it.”
Hochul said the state has made some progress in limiting the access of prescription opioid drugs. But the state wants to put more resources into helping addicts directly, noting that – on the average – it takes about 10 years for an addict to reach the point of having a fatal overdose.
“We have to look at who’s already addicted, provide them services and help them get off their addiction and recover,” she said. “And I think that’s when we’re going to start getting better. I don’t think we’ve hit rock bottom yet, though,” she told Buffalo radio station WBFO.
In February, Cuomo announced an award of $10 million in capital funding to five providers for the development of 84 new community-based Medically Supervised Withdrawal and Stabilization Services beds throughout New York. The detox programs will provide around-the-clock care to people who are under the influence of alcohol, opioids, or other substances, or suffering from withdrawal, and help stabilize them and connect them to long-term treatment services.
Medically supervised withdrawal and stabilization programs offer medical assessment, information about recovery support, family treatment, clinical services, and medication to manage withdrawal symptoms.
New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).
Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, community residence, or outpatient care can be found using the NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard at FindAddictionTreatment.ny.gov or through the NYS OASAS website.