Tackling the Drug Epidemic

Last year in New York City, approximately 1,300 people died of drug overdoses. That’s more than the total number of people who died of murders and car crashes twice over. Even worse, just this last year our neighborhood was classified as one of the highest neighborhoods in the city for unintentional drug poisoning. More needs to be done to treat those who are suffering.

John knows firsthand how many within our communities suffer from addiction.  He understands that we need a multifaceted approach to help those in need find the help they deserve:

  • Require all pharmacies to post signage on their registers informing their patrons naloxone, which treats acute opioid overdoses, is available at that location and specifying the cost (if any).  As addiction knows no boundary, every community district should have one pharmacy that provides this life-saving drug free of charge.  This would allow those who suffer from addiction, as well as their friends and family members, to obtain this life saving treatment with minimal barriers.
  • Proactive outreach to make sure all bars and nightlife locations have naloxone on site.  They should be asked to keep this drug where they keep their first aid and CPR kits.
  • Attacking drug addiction as we did gun violence. John helped start Jacob’s “Stand Up to Violence” program, which uses credible messengers to reach young men at high risk of committing violence.  The program has been shown to reduce gun violence over 50% within its zone of operations in the 49th Precinct.   John would like to undertake a similar approach to drug addiction, taking the top ten neighborhoods that are grappling with drug addiction and hire recovered addicts to mentor this population and show them there’s hope to turn their lives around.
  • John supports limiting supplies of addictive painkillers like OxyContin. If stores are not willing to limit their supply to seven days, John will introduce legislation to limit pharmacies in their ability to sell cigarettes and would work with the state to limit operators’ ability to obtain alcohol, lotto and other licenses.  People should come before profits.
  • Extending Detox for those trying to get better. For those trying to get clean, sometimes their stay in a hospital can be a significant obstacle.  In fact in many locations, hospitals only house those recovering to 72 hours emergency care.  John believes that’s wrong and would work with NYC Health + Hospitals to extend that stay by at least another 72 hours so private hospitals can transfer their patients over to the City system if they’re unable to house them.
  • Work with NYPD to expand the use of overdose response squads, so we can quickly find those who cut their drugs with dangerous substances like fentanyl and needlessly jeopardize the lives of the most vulnerable.  There should be teams on site in all of the top ten communities grappling with drug overdoses.
  • Requiring every junior high school class to host a licensed drug treatment specialist for each student before they graduate. This outreach should also occur with parents through PTA meetings and Parent-Teacher Conferences. We need to end denial surrounding the seriousness of the opioid epidemic in our communities through an awareness campaign reducing the stigma for those seeking care and treatment.
  • Integrate behavior health services with drug treatment prevention.  Too often, those who suffer from both diseases fall between the gaps of care because many providers do not treat both ailments together. John will push for holistic care from our hospitals and medical institutions so patients can go to one place for all of their substance and behavioral issues and so people do not fall between the cracks.

John knows we need to stop every drug dealer, but we also can’t jail our way out of an addiction epidemic.  We need to cut off the supply, and help those who are addicted find a new path, otherwise if a demand continues to exist, a new dealer will simply move in to supply that demand.