Action Step 1:
Prioritize universal access to three life-saving public health tools for all New Yorkers struggling with opioids: medication-assisted treatment, naloxone, and harm reduction services.
Despite New York’s pioneering history in establishing and promoting these critical public health tools, they remain out of reach for too many New Yorkers, including those living in rural areas and those without stable access to health care. We will not end overdose in New York until we prioritize connecting all New Yorkers in need to these vital tools.
Opioid agonist treatment: Buprenorphine and methadone are essential medications that stabilize people who are opioid dependent and help them move toward recovery. These medications are the gold standard for opioid use disorder treatment and should be fully supported as such. New York should promote much greater access to buprenorphine and reduce regulatory barriers to improve broader access to methadone.
Naloxone: New York has greatly expanded access to this life-saving medication that reverses opioid overdoses, but we have not yet reached universal access among people with a history of drug use and their loved ones. To ensure that every New Yorker at risk for an overdose or likely to witness an overdose has naloxone, we must increase strategic naloxone distribution through community-based organizations serving people who use drugs, drug treatment and homeless services agencies, and people involved in the criminal justice system.
Harm reduction services: Harm reduction programs (including syringe access programs) are uniquely positioned to conduct essential outreach and engagement to people at risk for overdose who are not connected to services. Harm reduction programs provide education, counseling, referrals, and support to people at risk of overdose. These services are a critical pathway toward health and recovery for people who use drugs – particularly those outside of the treatment system.