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New York Task Force Calls for Expanded Drug Courts to Combat Overdose Crisis

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

A recent report from the New York State Interagency Taskforce on Overdose Prevention urges the state to reduce addiction stigma and expand drug court access to save lives. The report, issued by the Department of Health’s Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), highlights the rise in fatal overdoses due to COVID-19 and the prevalence of fentanyl and other potent substances in the drug market.

OASAS Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham outlined the task force’s goal to identify ways to reduce overdoses across New York. Recommendations include better drug testing, enhanced outreach, more accessible treatment, increased availability of naloxone, and public education campaigns. Advocates suggest that the Treatment Not Jail Act, offering alternative treatment courts, could be more effective than current legal approaches. Additionally, Rep. Marc Molinaro proposed adding the overdose reversal agent Opvee to the state’s resources.

The report highlights the severe impact of the overdose crisis, noting a five-fold increase in fatal opioid overdoses since 2010 and over 6,300 overdose deaths in 2022. A Siena College poll revealed that 68% of New Yorkers know someone affected by opioid abuse, underscoring the widespread nature of the crisis.