New OASAS commissioner takes different approach in opioid battle

In New York, there’s a new face behind the fight against the opioid epidemic, Dr. Chinazo Cunningham. She’s taking a different approach in this battle.

A primary case physician for 20 years, she’s board certified in addiction medicine. This month, she marks six months as the commissioner of OASAS – the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and she’s pushing to take things in a new direction.

The passion to take on this fight comes from her mother. Raising three girls on her own, she was a teacher working with teenagers who were about to get kicked out of high school.

When COVID first hit – Cunningham was deployed to hospitals in the Bronx. She says the pandemic shone a light on disparities in the healthcare system. Now she’s fighting a new epidemic. Across the U.S., more than 107,000 people have died in the past 12 months from drug overdoses.

Cunningham is pushing to for what’s known as harm reduction.

Learn more about how the harm reduction approach works, the best time she says to use this approach, and the concerns from critics by watching the video of Subrina Dhammi’s story.