State Department of Health Hosts Opioid Overdose Prevention Provider Meeting

Event paves the way for greater cooperation as the state seeks to address the opioid epidemic

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 21, 2016) – More than 100 representatives from state agencies, local health departments, drug treatment programs and community-based organizations met to explore ways to combat the epidemic of opioid overdoses and commemorate the 10th anniversary of the state's Opioid Overdose Prevention Program. The event, which was held April 6 in Troy, was sponsored by the AIDS Institute of the New York State Department of Health.

The meeting provided a forum for best practices and lessons learned, and helped chart the future course of the state's overdose initiative. The meeting included discussions on improving outcomes for individuals at risk for a fatal overdose beyond the administration of naloxone. Participants came from a range of disciplines, creating a foundation for strengthening collaborations among the registered programs. Conference calls and/or webinars will be held in the coming year to offer guidance to attendees on common themes, and provide forums for continued dialogue.

More than 300 opioid overdose programs throughout the state have trained and placed naloxone in the hands of over 100,000 non-medical responders. Naloxone is an antidote that reverses potentially fatal overdoses from heroin and from opioid analgesics. In 2015 alone, trained responders administered naloxone more than 1,600 times.

"For the last 10 years, New York's opioid overdose prevention programs have saved thousands of lives, and for that we are thankful," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "But the opioid epidemic has worsened, and we need to implement proven program approaches to intervene and disrupt the process that leads to drug misuse and abuse."

Commissioner of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Arlene González-Sánchez said, "Together with our partner State agencies and the communities we serve, we are combatting addiction to heroin and opioids from every angle.Our primary focus is to connect all New Yorkers struggling with addiction to substance use disorder treatment services. From our new bed availability tool to our family support navigator program, we continue to implement innovative new ways to tackle this problem and support New Yorkers struggling with addiction. All New Yorkers need to know that treatment for addiction is available, along with family supports, and recovery is possible."

Deputy Commissioner and Medical Director of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Dr. Carl Koenigsmann said, "NYS DOCCS is honored to participate in yet another public health program that supports our commitment to maintaining the health and safety of our inmate-patients as well as benefit the communities to which they are returning."

Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services Michael C. Green said, "The state's Naloxone training program for law enforcement professionals has given more than 8,000 police and peace officers from roughly 700 different agencies another tool to save lives, and the opportunity for someone who has overdosed on opiates a second chance to break the cycle of addiction. DCJS also has certified more than 2,400 instructors who can train their peers across the state. This important initiative – the result of a collaboration among DCJS, DOH, OASAS, Albany Medical Center, the national Harm Reduction Coalition and other partners – is a good example of state government working together to protect New Yorkers."

Commissioner of the Education Department MaryEllen Elia said, "The percentage of New York high school students who reported using heroin is staggering. And it's still growing. We have to put an end to this nightmare. This isn't just a city problem or a suburban problem or a rural problem. This is an everywhere problem. That's why the State Education Department and Board of Regents have worked closely with the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, the NYS Department of Health and other state agencies to raise awareness of this public health crisis. We continue to work with schools and their employees, who can now administer an opioid-related overdose treatment in the event of an emergency. There is nothing more important than protecting our kids."

Earlier in April, the AIDS Institute in the NYSDOH released the "Opioid Poisoning, Overdose and Prevention" report to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the state Legislature. The report, which was made available at the meeting, examines trends in opioid use and overdose as well as strategies to overcome the epidemic. About 61% of all drug poisoning deaths in the U.S. in 2014 were attributed to opioids, such as heroin and opioid analgesics. Between 2011 and 2014, heroin-related overdose deaths in the country have tripled.

A similar trend has occurred in New York, where there was a 163% increase in deaths from heroin between 2009 and 2013 as well as a 30% increase in deaths from opioid analgesics. An average of two New Yorkers died of heroin-related overdoses every day in 2013.

For more information about the state's Opioid Overdose Prevention Program and a copy of the report, visit: