New York – Amid an escalating overdose crisis, Governor Cuomo’s decision to channel funding into primarily abstinence-based drug treatment wholly misses the mark and flies in the face of other strategies that have been demonstrably effective when dealing with an overdose crisis notably investing in harm reduction. Investment in traditional abstinence based treatment without a meaningful simultaneous investment in harm reduction is nothing more than a cynical political bait and switch. We will no longer applaud traditional treatment funding alone – recovery takes time and we need to save lives in the meantime.
In order to save lives, Governor Cuomo and New York State need to simultaneously fund naloxone, medication-assisted treatments like methadone and buprenorphine, syringe access, community-based harm reduction drug treatment, and safer consumption sites. These health-based interventions have been proven to save lives in the near term and give family members and friends the chance to support their loved ones in future healthier choices.
The annual overdose death rate in New York State has now eclipsed and surpassed the annual death rate during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Harm reduction interventions successfully halted HIV transmission among people who inject drugs. Now, as we did then, we must engage people who use drugs and listen when they tell us what their community needs to stay alive, fighting, and healing.
Learn more about the End Overdose Coalition – www.EndOverdoseNY.com