U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $100,000 in federal funding for two opioid prevention programs in the North Country. Specifically, the Alliance for Better Communities in Jefferson County and the Massena Drug-Free Community Coalition in St. Lawrence will each receive $50,000, respectively. The funding was allocated by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) program and will be used to support ongoing overdose prevention and drug treatment programs.
“The opioid and heroin abuse crisis in the North Country is a symptom of this national emergency, and we need to fight back now. With this vital funding, Alliance for Better Communities in Watertown and the Massena Drug-Free Community Coalition can start the hard work of prevention and treatment,” said Senator Schumer. “I am proud to announce this funding and will continue to work to help ensure that Upstate New York communities have the resources they need to make a difference in this fight.”
“The opioid crisis is tearing apart families and communities all over the North Country, and we have to do everything we can to stop it,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These federal funds will provide the Alliance for Better Communities and the Massena Drug-Free Communities Coalition with much-needed additional resources to support prevention and treatment programs. These organizations are working tirelessly to fight the opioid epidemic and respond to overdoses, and I will always do everything I can in the Senate to fight for the health and well-being of all New Yorkers.”
Mr. Stephen A. Jennings, Chairman of the Alliance for Better Communities, said “I am so proud to be part of the Alliance and of all our community partners who have worked diligently to improve the health and safety of Jefferson County residents. We have made steady progress in addressing the opioid crisis. The acquisition of the Community-Based Enhancement grant award will be another huge step forward in helping build resiliency and protective factors. We congratulate our partners and supporters.”
The Alliance for Better Communities is an established Drug-Free Communities-funded coalition located in Jefferson County, New York since 2012. The Alliance will use the SAMHSA’ funding to decrease youth access to and abuse of opioids, prescription medications, and other illicit drugs by forging deeper relationships with Jefferson County school districts grades 7-12. It will also work towards increasing capacity of targeted community adults, parents and school personnel, to assist youth to achieve positive outcomes as an alternative to using alcohol, opioids, prescription medications and other illicit drugs.
The senators explained that in the United States, drug overdose deaths have exceeded car crashes as the number one cause of injury or death. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and over 2 million adolescents, ages 12-17, reported using prescription opioids recreationally in their lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids—a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications and heroin—were involved in more than 33,000 deaths nationwide in 2015.
In last year’s budget deal, Schumer and Gillibrand fought for and secured $6 billion in federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic, the majority of which will be used for state grants and services. Schumer and Gillibrand, along with their Democratic colleagues, also worked to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA), which the senators said is a critical step in beating back the opioid addiction trend. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that the bill:
- Expands the availability of naloxone – which can counter the effects of a heroin or opioid painkiller overdose – to law enforcement agencies and other first responders;
- Improves prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion “and to help at-risk individuals access services;”
- Shifts resources towards identifying and treating incarcerated people who are suffering from addiction, rather than just punishment as is often the case currently; and
- Expands disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to help keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 was established to comprehensively fight the opioid epidemic through enhanced grant programs that expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery. The purpose of these programs is to provide financial and technical assistance to states and units of local governments to expand outreach, treatment and recovery efforts to individuals impacted by the opioid epidemic.