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New York Sees First Decrease in Opioid Overdoses in a Decade

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Opioid overdose deaths among New York residents (outside of NYC) declined last year for the first time in an entire decade, according to the state’s new Heroin and Opioid Task Force Progress Report.

Governor Cuomo made that announcement yesterday (December 9) and said the decrease is a significant milestone that’s the result of several aggressive actions taken by his administration over the past several years.

New York’s first reduction in opioid overdose deaths in over ten years is an important milestone and demonstrates our work to combat this deadly scourge is working,” Governor Cuomo said. “And while New York has taken the most aggressive actions to combat the opioid crisis of any other state in the country, the opioid epidemic continues to devastate too many families and we will not rest until we put an end to it once and for all.”

While close to 2,000 people tragically died from opioid overdoses last year, the figure was a nearly 16% decrease from 2017, according to preliminary State Health Department data covering areas outside New York City.

Hospitalizations for opioid-related overdoses also decreased 7.1 percent in that same time period.

Governor Cuomo first convened the state’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force in 2016, reconvening it as part of his 2019 State of the State proposals. It’s Co-Chaired by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez.

The Task Force has proposed new, non-traditional services, including recovery centers, youth clubhouses, expanded peer services, Centers of Treatment Innovation (COTI), mobile treatment, telehealth and 24/7 open access centers, which provide immediate assessments and referrals to care.

These services have since been established in numerous communities around the state and have helped people in need access care closer to where they live.

“New York is reducing overdose deaths for the first time in years, and while we acknowledge the tremendous progress we’ve made, we know all too well the devastating impact opioid addiction is still having on our families and communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Co-Chair of the Heroin and Opioid Task Force. “Our Heroin and Opioid Task Force Progress Report details three years of work and improvements to combat the opioid crisis and protect and save lives. We are committed to continuing that work to ensure that all opioid-related services get to where they are needed most and end this epidemic once and for all.”


Highlights of the progress report:

Increase in Treatment Capacity across New York State

  • Since 2016, the state has added nearly 500 new treatment beds, and more than 1,800 opioid treatment program (OTP) slots.
  • Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has worked to expand access to traditional services, including crisis services and inpatient, outpatient and residential treatment programs.

Increase in Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services in High-Need Communities via Mobile Clinics and Telehealth.

  • Federal Opioid State Targeted Response Grants and State Opioid Response Grants have funded increases to prevention, treatment, and recovery services in high-need.
  • This funding has allowed New York State to increase treatment access in these areas with expanded peer services, mobile treatment, and telehealth, as well as targeted prevention services and recovery supports.

Integration of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Services for Opioid Use Disorder in Primary Care Health Facilities and Hospitals.

  • Actions to increase MAT prescribing have helped contribute to an increase of nearly 47% in the number of patients receiving buprenorphine prescriptions for opioid use disorders between 2012 and 2018.

Increase in the number of recovery centers in New York State, from three in 2016 to thirty-two currently in operation.

  • Last year nearly 32,000 people made at least one visit to a recovery center in New York State.
  • Recovery centers are part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to address substance use disorders in New York State. They promote long-term recovery by providing professional staff, peers and volunteers to engage and support people in their recovery.

Other Highlights Include:

  • Streamlining of regulatory requirements and issuing medical guidance supporting the rapid initiation of MAT, enabling patients to access these lifesaving medications on the same day they enter a treatment program.
  • Increased prevention services including prescriber education, limiting of many opioid prescriptions, expanded awareness campaigns, and support for regional coalitions and partnerships that invest in prevention initiatives on a local level.
  • Removing many of the insurance barriers that kept people from seeking treatment, including elimination of prior insurance approvals for inpatient treatment.
  • Expansion of access to the overdose reversal medication naloxone by increasing insurance coverage for the medication, subsidized co-payments, and regulations to require all OASAS-certified programs to maintain naloxone on site.
  • Increase in hospitals across the state initiating MAT in Emergency Departments after overdose recovery.
  • Distribution of joint OASAS/DOH best practices for using buprenorphine to treat OUD.
  • Expansion of drug user health hubs.

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