Grants to Establish Low Threshold Buprenorphine Services to be the First Awarded Through the State's Opioid Settlement Fund
Funding Supports Comprehensive Approach to Reduce Fatal Overdoses and Address New York's Opioid Crisis
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the availability of up to $7.5 million for state-certified providers and other treatment programs to establish low threshold buprenorphine services to address opioid addiction and save lives. Administered by the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the grants will be the first to tap New York State's Opioid Settlement Fund and will help develop up to 15 programs offering this safe, effective treatment for opioid use disorder.
"Far too many New Yorkers have been lost to the scourge of opioid overdoses and addiction," Governor Hochul said. "This funding, through the Opioid Settlement Fund, will help bring new hope to those struggling with substance use disorder, remove barriers to treatment that saves lives, and turn the tide of the opioid crisis in our state."
The funding will provide up to $500,000 for 15 programs statewide to offer low threshold buprenorphine services. OASAS-certified treatment providers, clinics by the state Office of Mental Health, hospitals, syringe services programs, and harm reduction programs are eligible to apply for the funding.
While buprenorphine is a safe and effective way to treat opioid use disorder, many providers have rigid requirements for entering and continuing treatment, which ultimately limits the number of individuals who receive this medication. Comprehensive low threshold services will help to address this issue by allowing for same-day, immediate buprenorphine treatment and care management services.
New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, "Low threshold services are rooted in harm reduction principles that include same-day treatment, a nonjudgmental approach, flexibility in prescribing medications, and making medication widely available in locations that reach people where they are. This initiative is part of OASAS' ongoing commitment to ensuring populations and communities across the state have equitable access to critical services and supports to treat opioid use disorder."
New York State received more than $2 billion through various settlement agreements with opioid manufacturers. A portion of these settlements will go directly to municipalities, with the remainder being deposited into a dedicated fund to support prevention, treatment, recovery, harm reduction, and education efforts to address the ongoing opioid epidemic.
The same legislation that established the dedicated fund also created the Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board, which is tasked with making recommendations on how settlement dollars should be allocated to best serve those in need. Board members issued their first recommendations on November 1, identifying the expansion of harm reduction services as a top priority.
New York continued to grapple with opioid-related deaths in 2021, with fentanyl now involved in most overdose deaths statewide, according to a report released by the state Department of Health this week. Other key findings include:
- 4,766 overdose deaths involving opioids, a 14 percent increase over the prior year.
- 10,430 outpatient emergency department visits due to opioid overdoses, a 12.6 percent increase over the prior year.
- 19,139 instances of naloxone being administered by Emergency Medical Services, an 11.8 percent increase over the prior year.
OASAS oversees one of the nation's largest substance use disorder systems of care with approximately 1,700 prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery programs serving over 680,000 individuals per year. As the state's opioid treatment authority, OASAS coordinates state-federal relations in addiction services and is also responsible for monitoring the use of settlement funds to ensure that the funds appropriated in the budget are expended for their designated purpose.
Likewise, the Department of Health continues to advance a variety of harm reduction initiatives to reduce the burden of opioid abuse and dependency statewide. This includes New York MATTERS, an electronic referral system for connecting persons with opioid use disorder to local treatment and harm reduction services; the Local Health Department Initiative, providing funding to 24 county health departments with the highest overdose rates outside of New York City to bolster primary care, corrections, harm reduction, emergency departments, public safety; and more than 900 registered opioid overdose prevention programs.
Acting New York State Health Department Commissioner James McDonald said, "The opioid epidemic continues to affect all of us, as Americans and New Yorkers, and the Department of Health applauds Governor Hochul's State of the State proposed interagency approach to harm reduction to save lives through treatment of opioid addictions. As a result, the Department of Health continues to alert the public to the dangers of opioids through social media messages and other outlets, encouraging New Yorkers to recognize the signs of overdose and to take advantage of the resources available through the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program and the Department's new statewide standing order for naloxone."
New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Low threshold Buprenorphine services save lives, and I encourage agencies licensed by the Office of Mental Health to apply for funding and establish these safe and effective services for their clients who are impacted by opioid use disorder. This is an example of the critical importance of integrating substance abuse and mental healthcare throughout our service system.”
Senator Nathalia Fernandez said,"I am encouraged by the Governor's commitment to combating this issue and it is a great first step in opioid treatment and overdose prevention. In reviewing New York City Health’s latest report on overdose deaths in 2021 it’s abundantly clear that there is no room for lack of action. As the chair of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committee, I will make sure to use every tool available proven to help prevent overdoses and treat addiction."
Available addiction treatment including crisis/detox, inpatient, residential, or outpatient care can be found using OASAS' Treatment Availability Dashboard or on the agency's website. New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help and hope by calling the state's toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).
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