Home » Mayoral frontrunner Andrew Yang outlines plan to battle the opioid crisis in NYC

Mayoral frontrunner Andrew Yang outlines plan to battle the opioid crisis in NYC

Andrew Yang set his focus Friday on the battle with the opioid crisis, promising an approach that would expand access to addiction prevention centers and reduce prosecution of some drug-related offenses.

Yang joined service providers in Staten Island for a discussion on opioid addiction before outlining his proposals, which target a drug scourge that has worsened locally and nationally during the coronavirus crisis.

The roughly quarter-century-old opioid crisis sent drug deaths to unprecedented levels nationwide prior to the pandemic, and those tolls have skyrocketed further since the arrival of COVID-19.

Drug deaths jumped in New York State by some 27% during a 12-month period ending in September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mirroring national trends.

“Opioid addiction is a plague that’s devastating so many families and communities,” Yang said. “Unfortunately that problem has gotten worse during COVID.”

He said the trend must be treated through the lens of public health, not criminal justice, and that he opposes criminally prosecuting use of some opiates — a reversal in tone from earlier this month, when he said he opposed decriminalizing fentanyl and heroin.

“This [addiction] is not some kind of personal failing, this is a public health crisis and a structural set of problems,” said Yang, who leads polls in New York City’s crowded Democratic mayoral primary. “We should be decriminalizing personal low-level use and non-violent use.”

His campaign rolled out a policy platform that calls for growing Staten Island’s Heroin Overdose Prevention & Education program to the rest of the city and expanding access to the drug-replacement medication buprenorphine.

In 2019, New York State stood out nationally on drug deaths: its count fell by almost 6% while the U.S. tally climbed, according to CDC data. But the progress did not last.

“We have to do everything we can to get the number of overdose deaths going back down again instead of rising,” Yang said. “New York City has the potential to be a leader, but it’s also clear we’re not doing enough.”

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Source (Ny Daily news)

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