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Overdose prevention centers save lives but remain in legal limbo, as NYC moves toward expansion

(GOTHAMIST) Caroline Lewis, Sean Carlson, Joseph Capriglione, Nsikan Akpan, March 4, 2023

On Thursday, Mayor Eric Adams announced an ambitious goal of reducing drug overdose deaths in New York City by 15% by 2025. It’s part of a broad plan the mayor laid out to improve mental health and addiction services across the five boroughs.

This “Care, Community, Action” initiative comes at a time when overdose death rates have reached record highs, quadrupling over the last decade due mostly to fentanyl, a, dangerous synthetic opioid. The mayor’s strategy will focus on expanding programs that are already working to reduce the harms of drug use in hard-hit communities, such as syringe exchange programs that provide clean needles and access to social services.

But few details have been released on funding and implementation of this massive project.

To find out more about exactly how the city will tackle the drug overdose crisis, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan spoke with WNYC host Sean Carlson about the plan’s funding objectives.

They discussed how City Hall can support overdose prevention centers, which provide supervised injection of illicit substances along with a range of other services. Two of these facilities, the nation’s first, have saved hundreds of lives since opening in late 2021. But haggling at the federal level has left their legality in question, which is also limiting the funding local governments can provide.

Read More: Gothamist