Campaign Focuses on Dangers of Fentanyl, Harm Reduction Education, and How to Seek Help for Addiction
Governor Kathy Hochul announced on July 31 the launch of a new statewide media campaign to raise awareness of addiction, and the services available in New York State for those impacted by addiction and their families. The campaign is designed to educate the public about the potential risks of fentanyl, as well as the importance of harm reduction services, and how and where to find help for addiction in New York State.
As part of this campaign, the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) is also launching a partnership with NEXT Distro to increase access to the overdose reversal medication naloxone. This partnership is funded through New York State’s Opioid Settlement Fund, and will allow individuals to receive naloxone by mail, free of charge. To complement these efforts, OASAS is also premiering a new educational podcast series, entitled “Addiction: The Next Step.” The podcast will educate the public about all aspects of addiction and the work of OASAS and highlight stories of individuals in recovery.
“The impact of fentanyl and the ongoing opioid and overdose crisis continues to be felt by New Yorkers in every community across the state, and we are working around the clock to address this public health emergency,”Hochul said. “We need to take every possible step to save lives which starts with educating New Yorkers on the dangers of these substances and the resources available to help all those who have been impacted.”
OASAS Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham said, “We are experiencing the worst overdose crisis in history. It is more important than ever that we inform the public about the ongoing risks, as well as the services and supports available here in New York. This campaign and podcast series is another way for us to get the message out that help is available, every step of the way, no matter what support people need or where they live. In addition, by supplying naloxone for free, we are giving people an important tool to help stop overdoses and save lives in their communities.”
Fentanyl is a potentially extremely dangerous substance, which can be 100 times more potent than heroin. While fentanyl has certain legal medical uses, use of illegal fentanyl and synthetic analogs continues to rise and can have devastating consequences. Fentanyl is especially dangerous because it is often mixed into other drugs such as heroin or cocaine without the knowledge of the people using those substances, which substantially raises the risk of a potential overdose. Fentanyl is now present in approximately 75% of overdose deaths in New York State.
OASAS has worked to raise awareness of the potential dangers of fentanyl use through numerous efforts, including educating people on how to recognize signs of a fentanyl or opioid overdose, how to respond to an overdose and administer naloxone, and tips on how to avoid an overdose. Our ongoing prevention programming and education efforts across the state, including in schools, are also focused on informing New Yorkers about fentanyl and other illicit substances.
Earlier this year, OASAS partnered with NY MATTERS to launch a new ordering system for both providers and individuals to obtain fentanyl test strips. Since launching in February, more than 1.1 million fentanyl strips have been ordered. Free xylazine test strips and naloxone are also available through the same ordering system, and more than 230,000 xylazine test strips have been ordered since they were first made available in May.
Harm Reduction Delivered Campaign
The Harm Reduction Delivered Campaign builds on these ongoing efforts, with a PSA campaign to educate New Yorkers on the potential dangers of fentanyl. This multimedia campaign features PSA announcements on TV, radio, billboards and other public locations, and digital ads including on social media.
In addition to highlighting the potential dangers of fentanyl, and how New York State is working to address this crisis, the campaign will also raise awareness of harm reduction services. Harm reduction is an important part of the continuum of addiction care available throughout the state, and includes things like naloxone and test strip distribution, efforts to increase medication for addiction treatment, work to reduce stigma, and education on overdose prevention.
The campaign also addresses the growing number of opioid-related overdoses across New York State through a new partnership to supply naloxone. OASAS is partnering with NEXT Distro to supply naloxone free of charge to individuals throughout the state. Previously, only OASAS and Office of Mental Health providers were able to order naloxone directly. Through a , individuals can now place orders for naloxone to be mailed directly to them. In addition to naloxone, educational materials on how to use naloxone, where to find treatment for opioid use disorder, and other resources will also be provided.
For individuals looking to learn how to use naloxone, OASAS offers , which are open to the public, and educate individuals on how to recognize an overdose, respond by administering naloxone, and what to do after naloxone is given.
This campaign is being supported with federal funding through the State Opioid Response and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment grants, as well as funding from New York State’s Opioid Settlement Fund.
Addiction: The Next Step Podcast
OASAS is also launching a podcast to educate the public about addiction, the services and supports available for New Yorkers, and how to access help. “Addiction: The Next Step” is hosted by former broadcast journalists and will include providers and other OASAS employees as guests, sharing their expertise about various aspects of addiction and the system of care in New York State.
The first episode features Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham, offering an introduction to OASAS, its mission, and the addiction services system in New York State. Future episodes will focus on OASAS prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services, and how these specialized services are integral to helping New Yorkers access the individualized help they need. Several episodes will also include conversations with New Yorkers in recovery, as well as others who have personal experience helping those affected by addiction.
New York State is receiving more than $2 billion through various settlement agreements with opioid manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies that were secured by Attorney General Letitia James. A portion of the funding from these settlements will go directly to municipalities, with the remainder deposited into a dedicated fund to support prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery efforts to address the ongoing opioid epidemic.
The same legislation that established the dedicated fund also created the Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board, which is tasked with making recommendations on how settlement dollars should be allocated to best serve those in need. Board members issued their first recommendations on November 1, 2022, identifying the expansion of harm reduction services and treatment as top priorities.
New York State has instituted an aggressive, multi-pronged approach to addressing the overdose epidemic, and created a nation-leading continuum of addiction care with full prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services. The state has worked to expand access to traditional services, including crisis services, inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment programs, as well as medication to treat addiction, and mobile treatment and transportation services.
Governor Hochul was a member of the NYS Heroin and Opioid Task Force, which in 2016, recommended new, non-traditional services, including recovery centers, youth clubhouses, expanded peer services, and open access centers, which provide immediate assessments and referrals to care. These services have since been established in numerous communities around the state and have helped people in need access care closer to where they live.
New Yorkers struggling with an addiction, or whose loved ones are struggling, can find help by calling the state’s toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) or by texting HOPENY (Short Code 467369).