VOCAL has released a newly updated policy platform, How to End the Drug Overdose Epidemic in New York, reflecting the latest developments, including passage of a law we championed to allow widespread access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.
New York has a drug overdose crisis. Now the leading cause of accidental death in the state, overdose death rates have soared alongside increasing prescription opioid use and as people transition from pills to heroin. Heroin-related deaths have increased by 100% in New York City since 2010, and cocaine poisoning continues to be involved in about half of deaths. We have many tools at our disposal to reduce the harms and death associated with drugs, but unfortunately, the bulk of resources are given over to law enforcement, the legacy of a failed, 40 year ‘war on drugs’ approach.
It doesn’t need to be this way. People will continue to use drugs. What New York needs is drug policy based on public health and scientific evidence. We need a concerted effort to promote the health, wellbeing, and safety of communities, not a foolhardy quest to eliminate drugs from society that perversely leads to more people dying from overdose, becoming infected with HIV or viral hepatitis, or being incarcerated to no public good.
New York already has the tools and know-how to greatly reduce overdose deaths. We only need the political will. The following approaches to prevent overdose deaths value health over punishment and are based on decades of experience and public health research.