In breaking news from earlier this month, the State of New York just announced that it would open 14 new drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers. These 14 programs are entirely funded by New York’s investment in its residents' health and well-being.
New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services announced in early March of 2019 that it would utilize $5 million in state funding to support the programs. Each treatment center will set up its recovery program in an area of the state that needs it. Each center is slated to be staffed with treatment experts from local recovery organizations. Further funding is also being set aside to improve two existing treatment centers in NY that are already in operation.
A MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
In many ways, New York State leads the way in creating addiction treatment options for people in recovery, for people who are actively using drugs, and for individuals who are trying to wean down off of drugs. This new funding program will bring New York’s total of new facilities opened to 25, all just since 2016.
Another aspect that sets New York’s approach apart is that New York drug rehabs focus on long-term recovery. These “Recovery Community Centers” as they are called provide ongoing support to their recovered patients. The goal is to prevent relapse, an unfortunate occurrence that affects thousands of recovering addicts every year.
More rehab centers are reworking their programs. They do this because each year the U.S. drug problem becomes more virulent. The goal? Make the focus on long-term recovery, a necessary and crucial element of addiction treatment that is often left out. According to Arlene González-Sánchez, the Commissioner of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, “Treatment alone is not enough for people dealing with addiction, and we need to make sure that the proper recovery supports are available. These new centers will offer people in recovery a chance to meet their peers going through the same challenges, receive help to reclaim their lives from addiction, and build a new life in recovery.”
SERVICES OFFERED AT NEW YORK’S RECOVERY COMMUNITY CENTERS
New York is attempting to create some degree of uniformity and dependability in their recovery centers, at least for those which are funded through the state’s grant program. The Recovery Community Centers will offer peer support, wellness education, skill-building, some recreation, social activities for social reintegration, employment readiness, and so on. The centers themselves will be staffed by a crew of professional staff, supported by volunteers and peers in recovery too.
In the words of Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, “We are committed to investing in recovery centers across the state to help individuals and families struggling with addiction. This funding will establish 14 new recovery community centers and expand services at two existing centers across the state. We want to ensure people have access to the resources and services they need to lead healthy and safe lives and continue our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.”
New York State is also one of the leading states for directing funding toward addiction treatment. While the entire Obama Administration struggled to persuade Congress to direct not even $200 million in treatment funding for the whole nation, Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, has been able to secure over $30 million in state funding for addiction treatment in the last year and a half just for the state of New York.
In December of 2018, $9 million was directed towards opioid addiction treatment in New York. Furthermore, in September of 2017, an impressive sum of $25 million was directed at funding treatment in 19 counties in New York which struggled immensely with the opioid crisis.
A MESSAGE FOR THE REST OF THE UNITED STATES
This article is not meant to be a promotional piece for New York State drug rehabs. One has to be a resident of the state to attend treatment there anyway, and that won’t work for the vast majority of addicts in the U.S. Rather, this article is meant merely to shed light on the fact that the drug addiction crisis is not all doom and gloom, at least not anymore. Some states, like New York, are starting to realize that overcoming a regional drug problem depends on treating the addicted populace through professional recovery centers, not incarcerating addicts and leaving them in a jail cell to rot.
New York is setting the bar for what the entire United States needs to be doing in how our country approaches the addiction crisis. Every U.S. state needs to get on board with treating addicts through qualified residential rehabilitation programs as opposed to incarcerating them, ignoring them, treating them poorly, or otherwise stereotyping them.
At this time, there are roughly 24 million drug addicts and alcoholics in the United States. That information comes directly from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In their words, “In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—9.4 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug in the past month. This number is up from 8.3 percent in 2002.”
We have a genuine drug problem on our hands. If we don’t start treating addicts like addicts, individuals who have legitimate crises, we’re never going to overcome this gripping crisis. At least not within our lifetimes. The drug problem in the U.S. kicked off in 1999, and it has grown progressively worse since then. It will likely keep doing so until positive, reformative changes are made.
Some isolated efforts have been made on the federal level to reform the way our country approaches addiction, but these have more or less been ineffective. And they’ve been ineffective because of the archaic, fervent, mad-dog attempt at furthering the “War on Drugs” mantra of the 1970s. It didn’t work then. It most certainly isn’t working now. It’s time to change how we address addiction. It’s time we treat addicts with qualified rehabilitation programs. New York is more or less leading the way on this. Let’s follow them.