In 2014, there was more than one fatal drug overdose in New York City every day. This means that in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, or Staten Island, people died from entirely preventable means.
Although there is a general drug abuse crisis in New York City, the city is particularly afflicted by heroin and prescription opioid abuse. In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio is making an effort to reverse the rate of overdose on these drugs. The drug naloxone can be used in an emergency situation to potentially combat the fatal effects of opiate (e.g., heroin) and opioid drugs (e.g., prescription oxycodone). In December 2015, de Blasio approved a policy that makes naloxone available in pharmacies without a prescription. The drug is available as an injectable or a nasal spray, and it is reportedly easy to use. The expansion of access to naloxone means that anyone who uses an opiate or opioid can carry this overdose antidote with them. A concerned family member, friend, or colleague could use this drug to save a life.
Drug Use Rates in New York City
Statistics available from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2013 reflect findings for the 2012 survey year. This comprehensive survey of drug use in New York City revealed the following, by selected drug type:
Note that marijuana use is prevalent in New York City. Unlike other Northeast cities, such as Pittsburgh, city officials are not going to be decriminalizing marijuana anytime soon. In 2016, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton publicly disagreed with the decriminalization of marijuana on the eastern seaboard and elsewhere. For Police Commissioner Bratton, marijuana use is a main contributor to violence in New York City, even more so than heroin. However, under Mayor de Blasio, the New York Police Department is supposed to give a ticket to a person who is carrying 25 grams or less of marijuana, as opposed to arresting them. The difference in opinion between the police commissioner and the mayor highlights the divide within the marijuana debate nationally.
Political opinions aside, it is important for the public to understand that some individuals do show signs of addiction to marijuana and the best practice is for them to get treatment. Addiction is not about an individual drug of abuse as much as the vast psychological, social, and emotional forces underlying use. In New York City, anyone who is experiencing substance abuse of any kind can receive help.
Drug Treatment in New York City
New York City makes numerous resources available to individuals who are seeking to recover from drug abuse. When paying for treatment is a concern, or a person does not have insurance, it can be a good idea to look for free or low-cost options.
The New York State Department of Health provides the public with a searchable treatment provider directory. In addition, the Network of Care provides contact information for drug rehab centers, including inpatient substance abuse treatment facilities, comprehensive outpatient substance abuse treatment, and detoxification programs. A privately run website, One Father’s Love, lists free services. In addition, New York City is home to many nonprofits that can be of assistance in different phases of recovery. Typically, these nonprofits are community-based and can be found based on a referral or a search engine such as Great Nonprofits.
For individuals who encounter legal problems in New York City as a result of drug use, there are legal aid societies in each borough that can provide assistance. The Legal Aid Society maintains a list of all its locations. Even if the society cannot help directly, it may be able to make a referral to a government, nonprofit, or private organization that works in the needed area.
In some instances, people may seek recovery services for themselves. In other instances, concerned friends or family members do the research in order to help the person in need get into a recovery program. Professionals working in the field of addiction understand that people may feel like they are in the dark when starting to navigate the basics, like how to find a rehab center and gain admission. It’s important to keep in mind that many people have dedicated their professional lives to helping others find their way into drug treatment and achieve recovery. Anyone who is looking for help will find that they are not alone.