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Gillibrand: opioid stats devastating, unacceptable

Dan Levy & WNYT Staff
Updated: February 10, 2020 11:32 PM
Created: February 10, 2020 07:15 PM

ALBANY - Fifty thousand Americans died from opioid overdoses last year. It's a reality that quickly immerses families into a world of addiction and substance disorder they know little about.

"These numbers are devastating and unacceptable," says Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D - New York).

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With more than 160 opioid related deaths in 2017, New York's junior senator says the Capital Region has been hit especially hard by the crisis.

"Because," she says, "each one represents not just an individual but a family in the community that's been ripped apart by substance use disorder and the world of addiction."

The Family Support Services for Addiction Act would create a $25 million grant program over five years to help nonprofits and community organizations provide support services to families whose loved ones are seeking treatment.

"We struggle with often times having families lose connections with families based on losing the client and we really want to help keep that community together," says Kelly Fahrenkopt, Clinical Director of Residential Services at the Addictions Caring Center of Albany. "We know that addiction affects the whole family."

At the Addictions Care Center of Albany, on McCarty Avenue, Fahrenkopf says they're at full capacity, with a long waiting list.

"I can only see this as a very positive thing to help us to continue to have a positive impact on the families in this community," said Carolyn McLaughlin, an Albany County Legislator, whose district includes the ACCA in the city's South End.

"You have no idea how many hundreds of thousands that this will help and save lives down the road," said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

Apple points out there were 204 overdose incidents in his jurisdiction last year; some of them fatal, and some resulting in miracle Narcan resuscitations.

"Many of these folks have overdosed a number of times," Apples states, "And you hope and pray that one day they'll wake up and say today is the day I want help."

But then you need to ask yourself, will $25 million do the trick?

"It's not nearly enough," Gillibrand opines, "It's literally a drop in the bucket but it's a good start."

Gillibrand points out the intent of the initial legislation is to create a baseline, to show that it works and then once you prove that it does, she's hopeful more money can be added in the future.

And because it's bipartisan legislation, she's also hopeful it'll pass this year, making grant money available next year.


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