Mayor Adams Announces How Opioid Settlement Fund Dollars Will Lay Pathbreaking Way Forward for Services and Supports

Mayor Adams Announces How Opioid Settlement Fund Dollars Will Lay Pathbreaking Way Forward for Services and Supports

With $150 Million in New Funding Over Next Five Years, City Will Invest in Expanded Lifesaving Services for People Who Use Opioids

New York, NY

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today outlined the city’s initial investments from the opioid settlement funds secured for the city by New York Attorney General Letitia James from settlements with different manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The funds will go toward strengthening existing services, boosting workforce capacity, and supporting families who have lost loved ones. These investments spring from the first round of payments New York City received from the fund.

“Too many New Yorkers have suffered from death and addiction and too many families and communities have been torn apart,” said Major Adams. “With the funding secured by Attorney General James from Big Pharma, we will address the multiple crises that have stemmed from the opioid epidemic — from harm reduction, to expanded treatment options, to support for families who have lost loved ones to drug overdoses. This money will help us save lives, and I thank Attorney General James for her partnership in fighting to end the opioid crisis and building a healthier and safer New York City.”

“Opioid addiction and overdose prevention have been and remain the most serious health issues facing the city, state, and country,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “It hits home, as so many of us have a family member, a friend, or a colleague touched by the issue. This initial funding will reaffirm and invest in the work to reach individuals and families in need, whether they are grieving the loss of a loved one or battling addiction. The city’s support for people touched by this issue will be strengthened and sustained in the coming months and years, as we know the journey to health and healing can be a long one.”

“Every strategy, every tactic, and every dollar we spend must be directed at saving lives, and we know a public health approach is required to do so,” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Through a coordinated, interagency approach grounded in prevention, harm reduction, and treatment, this funding will enable successful programs to get the support they need, and allow us to explore new innovations to mitigate this crisis and keep people alive. The urgency has never been greater.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals sees patients for opioid overdose and dependence at every hour of the day,” said Charles Barron, MD, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Office of Behavioral Health, NYC Health + Hospitals. “These additional funds will help our substance use consult teams provide care whenever and wherever it’s needed — whether that’s in one of our hospital departments, like maternity or psychiatry, or through our street homeless outreach.”

“Our uniquely close relationship with families touched by fatal opioid overdoses has shown that survivors often struggle with a range of needs in addition to coping with their immediate loss,” said New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jason Graham. “With this additional funding, we will expand our ongoing efforts to reach those grieving in the wake of opioid overdose deaths, and provide tailored support as needed to help prevent additional tragedies.”

With this first round of investments, $150 million over the next five years will go toward:

  • Strengthening Harm Reduction and Treatment in Communities
    • Sustaining and expanding hours and services at the city’s existing Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) that operate Overdose Prevention Centers (OPCs) to reduce risk of overdoses among people who use drugs and offer them connections to other services and supports, like treatment.
    • Expanding access to Street Health Outreach and Wellness (SHOW) mobile harm reduction clinics and connections to provide care in communities hardest hit by the overdose epidemic.
  • Expanding Support for Treatment Optimization Strategies
    • Supporting additional staff within the city’s public hospital system to expand their emergency department substance use consult team to 24/7 operations across 11 hospitals.
    • Training the behavioral health workforce to build expertise in addressing co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders.
  • Strengthening Community Support for People Who Use Drugs and Their Families
    • Expanding support for the families of drug overdose decedents by connecting them to critical mental health and social services supports in the crucial window following a death and according to their particular needs.

These investments will help New York City expand and build upon initiatives that save lives and provide access to treatment and other services. HealingNYC — the city’s existing plan to address the opioid overdose epidemic — has taken major steps to address this ongoing crisis, including conducting public awareness campaigns about fentanyl, working with community ambassadors and organizations to distribute fentanyl test strips, increasing capacity of syringe service programs to conduct outreach and engagement into services, and distributing naloxone kits. This planned $150 million investment will build on the city’s $60 million annual allocation for HealingNYC and other baselined investments to support overdose prevention, harm reduction, and treatment initiatives. In the coming months, the city will publish its new plan to address the opioid overdose crisis, as it works to build upon and refine current strategies and factor these new investments into existing work.

New York City also saw the opening of the first two publicly recognized OPCs in the nation, which provide a continuum of services to address basic needs and offer connections to treatment for people who use drugs. Since opening in November 2021, the two OPCs in New York City have intervened in more than 300 potential overdoses.

There are three main pools of fund money from the settlements for New York City. The first pool will flow through the Office of the New York State Attorney General. The second pool will flow through the New York State Office of Addiction and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), guided by the Opioid Settlement Board. The third pool is a direct-to-localities funding mechanism for approved uses. Through this mechanism, New York City will receive approximately $286 million over the next 18 years, and of that, $150 million over the next five years will go toward supporting the initiatives listed above.

This funding comes at an urgent time. In the third quarter of 2021, there were 709 overdose deaths in New York City, compared to 552 overdose deaths during the same period in 2020, according to a newly released DOHMH report. The third quarter of 2021 had the highest number of overdose deaths in a single quarter compared with any quarter-year on record. If these trends continue, DOHMH expects the number of overdose deaths in 2021 to exceed those in 2020, which saw the highest number of overdoses in New York City since records began in 2000.

“I welcome the mayor’s announcement in advance of the City Council’s oversight hearing tomorrow. The opioid epidemic has devastated our city’s families and they are entitled to clarity about how settlement funds will be administered” said New York City Council Member Linda Lee, Chair, Committee on Mental Health Disabilities, and Addictions. “I applaud the mayor and his team for their well-considered plans to expend these funds and look forward to providing oversight so that every cent secured by Attorney General James effectively saves, treats, educates and recovers our disproportionately-impacted communities from vicious cycles of addiction.”

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