August 14, 2023
VOCAL-NY calls on New York State and Governor Hochul to prioritize funding for Harm Reduction programs and an End to the War on Drugs
NEW YORK – Today, amidst an overdose crisis that claimed a predicted 6,677 lives in New York State in 2022, VOCAL-NY has joined a national coalition of more than 130 organizations comprised of public health experts and drug reform advocates across more than 30 states on releasing a roadmap for policy makers and public health officials on how to distribute over $50 billion in opioid settlement funds nationwide, including over $2.6 billion available settlement funds in New York State. The roadmap details how these critical funds should and should not be spent and provides strategies for funding evidence-based public health solutions through a transparent process.
Public health experts call on New York State to invest 100% of these funds in evidence-based solutions that are proven to reduce overdoses, save lives, and give those with substance use disorder opportunities for effective treatment, rather than put them behind bars. These policies include:
- Funding access to all forms of FDA-approved medication for addiction treatment (MAT) and harm reduction services such as syringe service programs, access to naloxone, and the establishment of overdose prevention centers (OPCs).
- Expanding housing, outreach and wraparound support services for people who use drugs and people with drug-related convictions that could bar them from critical benefits.
- Addressing collateral consequences of current War on Drug policies, including supporting second-chance employment, recovery-to-work programs, and the expungement of past criminal convictions.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the overdose crisis with the distribution of these opioid settlement funds across the country. It is imperative that we ensure these funds are spent on evidence-based solutions proven to reduce overdoses– not perpetuate the failed War on Drugs,” said Jeremy Saunders, Co-Executive Director of VOCAL-NY. “War on Drugs policies have made our nation a global leader in mass incarceration, mass death and mass harms, disproportionately against Black and Brown communities. It is past time to reverse this trend and put us on the path toward ending this nightmare once and for all.”
VOCAL-NY is leading this national coalition in conjunction with The Center for Popular Democracy, Community Education Group, Legal Action Center, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Maryland Chapter, New Jersey Organizing Project & New Jersey Resource Project, National Sea Change Coalition & Sea Change Recovery Community Organization (NJ), VOCAL-KY, Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition and People’s Action.
You can read, A Roadmap for Opioid Settlement Funds: Supporting Communities & Ending the Overdose Crisis here.