New York announces $7.5 million in grants to expand treatment for low-level opioid addiction

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the availability of up to $7.5 million in grants for state-certified providers and other opioid addiction treatment programs.

Administered by the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), the grants will be the first to tap into New York State’s Opioid Settlement Fund and will help develop up to 15 programs that provide safe and effective treatment for opioid use disorders.

“Far too many New Yorkers have fallen victim to the scourge of opioid overdose and addiction,” Hochul said said. “This funding from the Opioid Settlement Fund will help bring renewed hope to those struggling with addiction, remove barriers to treatment that saves lives, and turn the tide of our state’s opioid crisis.”

The funding provides up to $500,000 for 15 nationwide programs to provide low-threshold buprenorphine services. Eligible applicants are OASAS-certified treatment providers, State Department of Mental Health clinics, hospitals, syringe service programs, and harm reduction programs.

While buprenorphine is considered a safe and effective way to treat opioid use disorder, many providers have strict requirements for starting and continuing treatment, which ultimately limits the number of people who receive the drug, the state said.

Comprehensive low-threshold services will help address this issue by providing immediate, same-day treatment with buprenorphine and care management services.

“Low-threshold services are built on the principles of harm reduction, which include same-day treatment, a non-judgmental approach, flexibility in prescribing medicines, and wide availability of medicines in places that reach people where they are,” said OASAS Commissioner Dr. Chinazo Cunningham.

“This initiative is part of OASAS’ ongoing commitment to ensure that populations and communities across the state have equal access to critical opioid use disorder management services and support,” continued Cunningham.

New York State received more than $2 billion through various settlement agreements with opioid manufacturers. A portion of these settlements will go directly to communities, with the remainder being paid into a special fund to support prevention, treatment, recovery, harm reduction and education efforts to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic.

The same act that established the Special Fund also created the Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board, tasked with making recommendations as to how settlement dollars should be allocated to best serve those in need. Board members issued their first recommendations on November 1, identifying the expansion of harm reduction services as a top priority.

New York continued to struggle with opioid-related deaths in 2021, with fentanyl now accounting for the highest number of overdose deaths nationwide, according to a report released last week by the US state’s Department of Health and Human Services.