Mayor Bill de Blasio and first lady Chirlane McCray announced a $22 million investment in New York City’s HealingNYC program to continue the city’s fight against the opioid epidemic.
The de Blasio administration launched HealingNYC in March 2016. Originally a $38 million initiative, Monday’s announcement brings the city’s total cost in its effort to reduce opioid overdose deaths to $60 million.
“The opioid epidemic has destroyed lives and hurt families across the country. In New York City, we are harnessing every tool to stop this deadly surge in its tracks,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This new investment will help to save more lives and connect those struggling with addiction to treatment.”
In 2016, more New Yorkers died of drug overdoses than of suicides, homicides and car crashes combined, according to the city. Between 2010 and 2016, the rates of drug overdose deaths in New York City more than doubled.
Though the 2017 overdose statistics are not yet official, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says there has been a “flattening” in the overdose death rate since the previous year.
This HealingNYC expansion could save up to 400 more lives by 2022, officials said.
The $22 million investment will be used to create peer intervention programs at more city hospitals; increase distribution of and training for naloxone (commonly called Narcan), which blocks the effects of opioids during an overdose; and connect more New Yorkers to treatment.
Through HealingNYC, FDNY EMS will launch the Leave Behind program, through which they’ll distribute 5,000 naloxone kits annually to homes they visit when responding to overdose calls. That program will begin at the end of summer 2018.
The investment will also help the city expand the HOPE program, which reroutes people arrested on low-level drug offenses into treatment, rather than jail.
With this additional money, 1,400 people will be diverted away from the criminal justice system each year, connected instead to the resources they need, the city said.
“Healing NYC is a comprehensive strategy that has proven effective at addressing the opioid epidemic in NYC,” said Rep. Jose Serrano in a statement. “With this additional funding, the city will be able to help more people and address this crisis at a faster rate. By 2022, hundreds of lives will be saved and our neighborhoods will be safer.”