Lowey Hosts Discussion on Opioid Crisis with Families, Substance Abuse Treatment Providers & Advocates
Tarrytown, NY – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester) today hosted a roundtable at Student Assistance Services Corp. with affected families and substance abuse prevention and treatment providers and advocates to discuss the impact of the opioid crisis in Westchester and Rockland counties and the $3.2 billion increase in the fiscal year 2018 federal spending bill to support prevention and treatment efforts.
“The opioid epidemic is a national emergency that demands a robust national response,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “The $3.2 billion increase in federal funding will bolster medical treatment and prevention efforts, providing much-needed assistance to families and communities struggling with addiction. While this funding increase is a major victory, Congress must make robust, continued investments in life-saving programs to bring the opioid crisis to an end.”
As the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Lowey successfully fought to secure a $3.2 billion increase for programs to respond to the opioid crisis in the FY18 federal spending bill:
- $1 billion for a new State Opioid Response Grant program within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as well as a $25 million increase focused on prevention and a $160 million increase to the Mental Health Block Grant;
- $100 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, of which New York is one of few states already eligible for funding;
- $350 million for the CDC’s initiatives on overdose prevention and improving state prescription drug monitoring programs, part of an overall $475 million CDC opioid investment;
- $330 million for the Veterans Administration for inpatient and outpatient treatment, because no veteran should ever be told there is no treatment available, and $49 million for implementation of VA opioid safety initiatives;
- $500 million increase at NIH designated for combating opioid addiction;
- $105 million increase to support training for treatment under the National Health Service Corps;
- $30 million for Prescription Drug Monitoring programs;
- $94 million increase for the Food and Drug Administration to increase inspections for illicit drugs;
- $447 million for Department of Justice grants for heroin enforcement task forces, drug courts, prescription drug monitoring, and overdose prevention medicines, such as Naloxone; and
- $100 million for to help children whose parents misuse drugs.
Lowey’s roundtable discussion included a number of local experts and affected families who made the following statements about the opioid crisis and efforts to increase prevention and treatment:
Ruth Bowles, executive director, Rockland Council on Alcohol and other Drug Dependence, Inc.:
“Addiction is a critical public health issue. The lives of individuals, families and communities have been afflicted by the worst drug epidemic in America’s history. The public needs education that addiction is a chronic, recurring brain disorder that can affect anyone, at any time. The goal of prevention is to reduce the prevalence of a disease or condition. Addiction is life-long disease, that is difficult to treat and difficult to sustain without specific medical interventions. Therefore, prevention of substance use disorders will be of utmost importance in averting a new generation from developing the horrific disease. “
Ross Fishman, Ph.D., president of Innovative Health Systems Inc. of White Plains:
"Addressing the opioid crisis requires a change in our culture and environment through massive education and prevention efforts; greater access to affordable, comprehensive treatment; and openness to the use of promising alternative medications and longer-term harm reduction therapies. Unfortunately, opioid users and most treatment providers are held hostage by a pharmaceutical-medical-governmental complex that enables easy access to these and other addictive substances, aided by a profit-driven segment of the addiction treatment industry that renders inadequate treatment. A further complication is that insurance companies are charging more for the medications used to treat opioid dependence than for the medications that perpetuate it."
Ilan D. Gilbert, Town Supervisor, Town of Yorktown:
“While opioid abuse is a nationwide epidemic, every one of us has been directly or tangentially affected by the opioid and drug abuse crisis. Much has been done but so much more is needed. Specifically, a global approach that encompasses, but is not limited to: Prevention, Law Enforcement, Treatment, Mental Health and Recovery.”
Ellen Morehouse, executive director of Tarrytown-based Student Assistance Services Corp.:
"Prevention is a key ingredient in turning the tide on the opioid crises. Along with reducing access has to opioids, increasing public awareness of their addictive potential, and increasing awareness of treatment options; there has to be increased focus on preventing youth marijuana and alcohol use - the two drugs that often begin the progression to opioid addiction. I appreciate Congresswoman Lowey's continued commitment to addressing the substance abuse crisis and securing funding for prevention and treatment."
America’s opioid crisis has reached epidemic levels. According to the New York State Department of Health, opioid overdose caused the deaths of 1990 New Yorkers outside of New York City in 2016, including 124 in Westchester County and 37 in Rockland County. Deaths from opioid overdoses increased roughly 20 percent between 2015 and 2016. The epidemic takes the lives of 116 Americans every day. More people die from opioids than from car accidents or guns.
Securing robust funding to respond to the opioid crisis has been a priority of Congresswoman Lowey’s. In 2017, Lowey announced $25,260,676 in federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services to New York State to combat opioid addiction through the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants program administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The funding was the first of two rounds provided for in the 21st Century Cures Act, which Congresswoman Lowey voted for and helped pass the U.S. House.