State

Central New York to receive state funding to fight heroin, opioid crisis

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Central New York will receive $5 million as part of New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $200 million investment to fight opioid and heroin crisis.

Central New York medical providers will receive a portion of $200 million in state funding to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Wednesday.

The state will allocate $5 million to central New York to tackle the epidemic, according to a press release from Cuomo’s office.

The state will invest a total of $145 million for medical providers in local communities, to create an additional 8,000 residential treatment beds, housing units and help fund opioid treatment programs, per the release. The money will also go to addiction treatment centers operated by state and the creation of additional training and addiction support programs and facilities.

“We have made significant progress in combating the devastating heroin and opioid epidemic in New York, but this crisis continues to plague our communities and we must do everything in our power to combat each facet of this complex health emergency,” Cuomo said in the release. “This comprehensive investment addresses each component of heroin and opioid addiction – prevention, treatment, and recovery – to help individuals and families break this cycle of misery, save lives and create a stronger, healthier state for all.”

Central New York is among several communities nationwide plagued by the severe opioid crisis. Overdose deaths are classified as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, according to CNN, and fatal overdoses have surpassed the number of fatalities due to car accidents and shootings in the country.

Within Onondaga County, 10 people have already died this year due to an opioid-related cause, according to the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office. In 2016, 142 people died of drug abuse in the county, commonly due to drugs including fentanyl, heroin and other opioids, an increase of 64 deaths compared to 2015. The county also has the third highest rate in the state for newborn drug-related diagnoses, with about 300 per 10,000 discharges.

In 2016, medical personnel called the CNY poison control center more than 550 times to report a person that was extremely ill due to opiate addiction, according to Syracuse.com, an increase from 355 calls in 2014.

The number of individuals who sought drug addiction treatment was projected to surpass 320 by the end of 2016, more than double the number of people who sought drug addiction in 2013, per a Syracuse.com report.

Erin Bortel, director of prevention services at ACR Health, a local nonprofit that treats drug addiction, said at a civic event held in 2016 that, “We’re dealing with a radical problem, and we need some radical solutions,” according to Syracuse.com.

Cognizant of the severity of the issue, the state has been increasing its effort to ameliorate the situation, including the limiting of initial opioid prescriptions for pain from 30 days to seven days.

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