Agency Calls for More Treatment Spots
Experts Available for Analysis of Epidemic and Solutions
Outreach, the noted drug and alcohol treatment agency based in Queens with locations in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, issued an informational report today on the opiate epidemic and what it means for the New York metropolitan area. The report serves as an educational showcase to inform the general public on the background of opioid addiction, recent trends, and the importance of treatment.
According to the data culled from contemporary sources, New York’s heroin overdose death rate has equaled or exceeded the national rate every year since 2006, as treatment admission rates for both heroin and prescription opioid abuse have increased over the past decade among all New Yorkers aged 12 and over. Among New York demographic groups tracked by federal data, whites, males and individuals in the 21 to 30 age range had the highest treatment admission rates for use of both substances.
“There is so much that is not being done,” said Beth Covelli, Senior Manager of New York City Outpatient Services for Outreach. “There’s a desperate need for more prevention services, more treatment across all age groups and continued pressure on government to make these services available via public and private partnerships.”
John Venza, Vice President of Adolescent Services at Outreach, said, “to say the effects on families are devastating is such an understatement. It’s critical that we expand the work done at Outreach to solve addiction problems, not with single-pronged approaches, but also with family counseling, education, vocational work and job placement. Only when we are able to take our kids off the streets and set them on the path to new environments and lives with specific goals will we be able to stem the tide of addiction.”
Other information from the report includes the following:
- 337 people died from heroin overdoses in Suffolk County during the five year period from 2009-2013. In 2016 alone, that figure jumped to 236.
- Overdose deaths in NYC have increased in the previous five years. Driven by fentanyl, overdose deaths in 2016 exceeded 1000 for the first time on record.
The report contains the following recommendations:
- While naloxone (commonly known as Narcan) can prevent opioid-involved deaths, increasing access to effect treatment is paramount.
- Prevention of opioid overdose deaths can be achieved by reducing the number of new opioid abusers and by increasing engagement of current users in effective specialized treatment programs.
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) includes the use of medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, to augment traditional counseling and behavioral therapies. MAT is reported to be underutilized, despite evidence that this approach improves health and social outcomes.
- Effective prevention and intervention strategies require the collaboration of multiple stakeholders and systems: public health officials, health care professionals, community organizations, law enforcement, legislators and individuals and families within communities.
For more than 35 years, Outreach has been a premier provider of life-changing substance abuse treatment in New York City and Long Island. A non-profit organization licensed by the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), Outreach is committed to making a difference in the lives of the people it serves providing comprehensive care within a safe, empowering and affirming environment.