By Joe Kuhn
New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services is expanding its operations. Last Tuesday the commissioner of OASAS, Arlene González-Sánchez, proudly announced the opening of Foundations Recovery center in Nanuet NY. The center will function as a meeting place where those struggling with addiction can gather and share their problems with volunteers and other recovering substance abusers. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul as well as State Legislators Ellen Jaffe, Ken Zebrowski, and David Carlucci, joined the commissioner in celebrating the completion of the facility which will provide “a safe environment where people can get help and take control of their lives”.
The new center, which is the first of its kind in Rockland County, will aid substance abusers by creating a space “where people in recovery can work with and support each other” said Gonzalez-Sanchez. It offers a “non- clinical setting” where they “can foster human connections” that are vital for a successful recovery. The center is the result of an “extensive” fact finding mission conducted by a special task force Governor Cuomo had formed in order to better understand the opioid crisis. Hochul and Gonzalez-Sanchez co-chaired the committee which traveled all throughout the state seeking input from local governments on how to best address the problem.
The results of the survey were clear; from the county to state level those familiar with epidemic agreed that breaking the stigma surrounding drug use and drug addiction was imperative to curbing the issue. The Foundations Center will help accomplish this by providing a communal space where substance abusers can support each other.
“I don’t know a single family or community that hasn’t been effected (by the epidemic)” said Hochul, who herself lost a nephew to a drug overdose. The lieutenant governor and the volunteers at the center are adamant that reaching out to users and treating them “like anyone else suffering from a medical condition” is the key to effective treatment and lasting rehabilitation.
OASAS will be in charge of funding and overseeing the center, which is one of “around thirty” that have been established over the past five years. New York State granted Foundations 87,000$ to establish the property and an annual operating budget of 350,000$.
During her remarks the Lieutenant Governor highlighted several other methods by which the state government has attempted to combat the crises. They have recently implemented a prescription monitoring program (“I STOP”) which created a database of people with opiate prescriptions. This has made it difficult for substance abusers to “doctor shop” and seek additional prescriptions for pain pills after their initial order runs out. The state has also “reduced the number of day’s that doctors are allowed to prescribe opiates” from thirty down to seven and Lieutenant Governor Hochul has personally and vehemently encouraged physicians all throughout New York to purse the qualifications necessary to better treat addiction. “Every doctor in the state is allowed to prescribe opioids” said Hochul “only around three percent” have the certifications necessary to prescribe Naloxone and other medications that fight addiction. Hochul also vowed to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for over selling medication “they knew” had addictive properties. There is “a long trail of people in communities that have been destroyed because of these addictions created from the pharmaceuticals, and there gonna pay for it” warned the Lieutenant Governor.