N.Y.C. OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Citizens, doctors, and lawmakers came together for a candid conversation about New York City’s opioid crisis and to meet New Yorkers who’ve been personally affected by the epidemic. We’ll share their stories.

For more information on “The New York City Opioid Battle” click here.

Aired on May 30, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

THERE IS A CONSTANT OVERDOSE IS JUST NON-STOP.

RESPONDING TO OVERDOSES IN THE AREAS THAT I GREW UP HITS HOME A LITTLE BIT.

WE HAVE A TOOL THAT CAN.

STOP YOEFRPDS DEATHS?

ARE WHY ARE WE NOT USE SFWLOOG WE KNEW IT THERE WAS AN OVERDOSE CRISIS BEFORE CITY HALL.

I DON'T THINK SUPPORTING DRUGS IS THE ANSWER.

> SINCE 2010 ALMOST 7,000 PEOPLE HAVE DIED WITHIN NEW YORK CITY DUE TO DRUG OVERDOSES.

STATEWIDE 1 MILLION OF OUR NEIGHBORS HAVE SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEMS.

A RECENT INVESTIGATIVE TOWNHALL SPECIAL, THE NEW YORK CITY OPIOID BATTLE HOSTED BY SPECTRUM NEWS NEW YORK 1 TOOK ON THE SCOURGE THAT IMPACTED NOT JUST NEW YORK BUT THE ENTIRE NATION.

AND THE GOAL, WELL THAT'S TO DISCUSS EFFORTS TO COMBAT THE EPIDEMIC.

THE NYPD ROLE IN ENDING IT AND IF CONTROVERSIAL SAFE INJECTION SITES ARE IN FACT THE ANSWER.

HERE IS WITH INIS LYDIA HUGH AND DR. LIPPY ROY MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF A NEW YORK ADDICTION TREATMENT CENTER AND A PERCEIVER AT NYULANGON WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I WANT TO START WITH THE DOCUMENTARY.

IT'S REALLY INTENSE AND SOMETIMES DIFFICULT TO WATCH.

I WANT TO GET YOUR TAKE ON HOW YOU GUYS WERE ABLE TO PUT THAT TOGETHER BECAUSE YOU GOT SOME REALLY EMOTIONAL STORIES.

WE DID.

YOU KNOW AT NEW YORK 1 WE WANTED TO TAKE A NATIONAL TOPIC, A NATIONAL CONCERN, THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC AND SHOW VIEWERS HOW IT'S AFFECTING US LOCALLY IN NEW YORK CITY.

WE REACHED OUT TO FRONT LINE WORKER AT SYRINGE SITES THAT'S HOW WE FOUND NOAH ONE OF THE PEOPLE WE FOLLOWED HE IS BATTLING A HEROIN ADDICTION AND HOMELESSNESS AS WELL WHICH COMPLICATES HIS ACCESS TO TREATMENT.

AS YOU SEE IN THE TUMTRY WE WERE ABLE TO ANOTHER INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER WAS ABLE TO GET INCREDIBLE ACCESS TO THE NYPD TO SHOW WAS LAW ENFORCEMENT IS TACKLING IN STATEN ISLAND TAKING DOWN AN ALLEGED DRUG DEALER AND USER ALSO.

WE WERE TRYING TO GET ON THE GROUND SEE HOW IT'S AFFECTING COMMUNITIES, THE FRONT LINE WORKERS WHO KNOW THE EPIDEMIC AND EXPERIENCE IT THE BEST.

I WANT TO GET BACK TO WHAT CAME OUT OF THE TOWNHALL AND POSSIBLE OPTIONS WE HAVE.

BUT I DO WANT TO TALK MORE ESPECIALLY WITH YOU, DOCTOR, ABOUT THE ISSUE OF STIGMA.

BECAUSE AS WE SEE IN THE DOCUMENTARY NOAH DEFINITELY WANTS TO GET HELP.

AND HE TRIES BUT YOU ALSO SEE HIM BATTLE WITH HIS OWN ISSUES AROUND GOING TO GET TREATMENT.

TWO KEY POINTS I ALWAYS LIKE TO TELL PEOPLE THAT ARE REALLY NECESSARY, ONE IS THAT ADDICTION IS A CHRONIC MEDICAL DISEASE, A DISEASE OF THE BRAIN WHERE RELAPSE IS EXPECTED.

IT'S NOT A SIGN OF MORAL WEAKNESS OR FAILURE.

THE SECOND POINT IS THAT MOST PEOPLE WITH ADDICTION ONCE CONNECTED TO THE APPROPRIATE TREATMENT AND CARE GET BETTER.

BUT WE JUST DON'T SEE THAT.

OF THE 23 MILLION AMERICANS WHO SUFFER WITH THE DISORDER ONLY 10% ACCESS TREATMENT AND STIGMA IS A MAJOR BARRIER TO CARE.

BUT WHAT SEEMS TO BE ONE OF THE REALLY STICKING ISSUES RIGHT NOW IN NEW YORK IS THIS ISSUE OF SAFE INJECTION SITING.

THAT'S RIGHT.

SAFE INMAGICS THE SITES WE ALSO DISCUSS IN OUR OPIOID SPECIAL.

THIS WAS AN ISSUE AND SOMETHING THAT FRONT LINE WORKERS ARE THINKING ABOUT AND WERE ADVOCATING FOR SOP SAFE INJECTION SITES HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR 30 YEARS AROUND THE WORLD.

THERE ARE NONE IN THE UNITED STATES.

THESE ARE WHERE DRUG USERS CAN CONSUME THE ILLEGAL DRUGS UNDER SUPERVISION OF MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.

IT'S AN IDEA TO SAVE LIVES.

WE ALSO SEE IN THE FILM THERE IS THE OVERLAPPING ISSUE OF HOW DO THE POLICE TREAT THE LOCATIONS?

RIGHT.

AND ALSO WHO IS OKAYING IT, RUNNING, CITY, STATE, ET CETERA?

WE FOLLOW A LITTLE BIT OF THE CONTROVERSY.

IN 2016 THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL KMILGS COMMISSION ADD STUDY SPENT $100,000 CALLING IT A FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR SAFE INJECTION SITE FIGURING OUT IF THE FACILITIES CAME TO NEW YORK HOW WOULD THEY WORK AND BE FUNDED?

THE PRODUCT OF THAT WAS A REPORT RELEASED IN EARLY MAY WHERE THE MAYOR SHOWS HIS SUPPORT FOR PILOTING FOUR OF THESE SAFE INJECTION SITES.

HE CALLS THEM OVERDOSE PREVENTION CENTERS AROUND THE CITY.

THE PREM HAD BEEN PASSED ALONG NOW THROUGH A COMPLEX APPROVAL PROCESS AND NEW AWAITS APPROVAL BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH BEFORE IT MOVES FORWARD.

BUT IF IT DOES IT WOULD TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN SEVERAL MONTHS -- PROBABLY A YEAR BEFORE ANY SAFE INJECTION SITE WOULD BE ABLE TO OPEN ITS DOORS.

BUT IF THE PROPOSAL MOVES FORWARD FOUR OF THEM COULD POTENTIALLY OPEN AROUND THE CITY.

AND A CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE WOULD BE IT WOULD SAVE 130 LIVES A YEAR.

I AGREE WITH HER POINT ON THE SAFE CONSUMPTION SITING IF YOU TOLD ME FIVE YEARS AGO WE WERE GOING TO GOING TO CREATE SPACES TO INJECT HEROIN.

THIS SEEMS COUNTERINTUITIVE.

I REALLY GET THE CONCERN THAT PEOPLE HAVE.

NEW YORKERS HAVE ABOUT CREATING THE SITES.

BUT MY RESPONSIBILITY AS A DOCTOR IS TO SAVE LIVES AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF MY PATIENT'S LIVES.

AND SO WHAT I'VE LEARNED LIKE LYDIA LEARNED AS WELL IS THAT THESE SAFE CONSUMPTION SITES OR FACILITIES THAT THAT ARE NOW IN OVER 60 CITIES AROUND THE WORLD, THE DATA FROM THE SITES IS UNEQUIVOCAL.

THEY REDUCE OVERDOSE INCIDENTS, OVERDOSE DEATHS, DECREASE HIV AND HEPATITIS C TRANSMISSION AND AS LYDIA POINTED OUT THEY ENGAGE PEOPLE IN CARE.

THAT'S WHAT WE WANT.

THEY HAVE MENTAL HEALTH DOCTORS ON-SITE.

ADDICTION DOCTORS.

AND BY THE WAY, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THE INJECTION FACILITIES HAVE HAD A FATALITY.

I THINK THAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT.

LISTEN, I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US.

AND OF COURSE FOR MAKING THIS INCREDIBLE DOCUMENTARY.

I GUESS WE'LL BE LOOK TO SEE WHAT COMES OUT OF THE STATE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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