The package pushes for tracking the use of opioid overdose antidotes such as naloxone, referrals to drug treatment, a syringe exchange program and an opioid awareness education campaign.
It is estimated that every seven hours, someone dies of a drug overdose in New York City.
As the opioid crisis is more and more tightening its grip on the city, members of the City Council passed yesterday a series of legislation to address the problem. The package includes a bill sponsored by Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane D. Williams that mandates tracking the use of life-saving opioid antidotes as well as other legislation pushing for mandatory referrals to drug treatment, a syringe exchange program to receive overdose-reversal drugs and an opioid awareness education campaign.
“Opioid addiction is a public health crisis, and here in New York City, we need to make full use of all of the tools we have available to combat this epidemic,” said Williams. “We have the ability to save lives with opioid antagonists like naloxone, and the data collected through the bills we passed will enable us to effectively use the resources at our disposal to prevent the tragedy of overdose.”
The opioid epidemic, which plagues communities across the state of New York, has had a devastating impact in New York City. According to city data, 1,425 New Yorkers lost their lives to overdoses in 2016, and over 1400 were killed in 2017. These numbers mark over a 50 percent increase in overdose deaths in the city since 2015.
Williams’s bill would require the NYPD to issue quarterly reports on the number of opioid antagonists the department has available, and the number of opioid overdose antidotes administered by trained NYPD officers. Similar bills, sponsored by Councilmembers Andrew Cohen and Ritchie Torres, mandate reporting on the use and distribution of antagonists by the FDNY and other city agencies.
The legislation package also sees to create a syringe exchange program, a bill requiring the Department of Social Services to refer individuals residing in Department of Homeless Services’ shelters or HIV/AIDS Service Administration (HASA) facilities that suffered a non-fatal overdose to additional services, and a bill which aims to provide students with educational materials on the dangers of opioid use.
“It is essential that we treat addiction as an issue of health and address it accordingly. We cannot, as we have in the past, have a varied response depending on the community impacted,” said Williams.
The bill is expected to be signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio.