The campaign, phase two of a $3 million public education campaign launched in December, features New Yorkers directly affected by opioid overdose and reminds viewers that naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose and save a life
HealingNYC, launched last month, will reduce opioid overdose deaths by 35 percent over the next five years
April 13, 2017 — The Health Department today launched an opioid overdose television campaign focusing on families and communities. The ads are part of the City’s ongoing public awareness campaign to educate New Yorkers about opioids and prevent overdose deaths with life-saving naloxone. Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced HealingNYC, a comprehensive effort to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 35 percent over the next five years, an investment of $38 million annually at its peak. In 2016, more than 1,300 people in New York City died of a drug overdose, the highest number on record, and 80 percent of those deaths involved an opioid: heroin, prescription painkillers and/or fentanyl. The ads, running on local stations through May 7, feature two New Yorkers directly affected by the opioid epidemic. One ad features Ann Marie, a Staten Island mother who lost her son to an overdose from prescription painkillers. The other ad, which is in Spanish, features Hector, a community healthcare coordinator and a Bronx father of two who has saved 26 lives using naloxone. He urges families and community members to take action to prevent more overdose deaths. The ads can be viewed here and here.
“Opioid misuse is a public health crisis, but we can and will reverse this fatal trend,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Our hope is that, by hearing Ann Marie’s and Hector’s stories, more New Yorkers will seek help for opioid use and learn that naloxone can save a life.”
More New Yorkers died last year of an opioid-related overdose death than from car crashes and homicides combined. The rise in deaths is due in large part to fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine which can be mixed into heroin and other drugs. Before 2015, fentanyl was involved in fewer than 5 percent of all overdose deaths in New York City, but during the second half of 2016, fentanyl was involved in nearly half of New York City overdose deaths. Staten Island and the Bronx had the highest rates (29.4 and 25.4 per 100,000 people, respectively).
HealingNYC is an aggressive, citywide response to disrupt the opioid crisis and save lives. The City will distribute 100,000 naloxone kits to community-based organizations, all NYPD patrol officers and City shelters. In order to prevent more deaths and address risky opioid use, the City will educate clinicians to judiciously prescribe opioids, invest in early interventions for youth, expand crisis intervention services for nonfatal overdose and connect high-risk communities with targeted prevention messages and care. The City will also help connect an additional 20,000 New Yorkers living with opioid use disorder to medication-assisted treatment and reduce the supply of dangerous opioids. HealingNYC will fund the public education campaign for an additional two years through June 2019. You can learn more about HealingNYC here.
New York City was one of the first jurisdictions in the country to widely distribute naloxone. Since 2009, the Health Department has dispensed naloxone to opioid overdose prevention programs across the city, distributing more than 15,000 kits to targeted programs and communities in Fiscal Year 2016 alone. In 2013, the New York City Police Department began distributing naloxone to officers in Staten Island and has since expanded its approach, distributing more than 13,000 naloxone kits across the city. In 2014, the City established one of the country’s first jail-based naloxone distribution programs at the Riker’s Island Visitor Center, run by Correctional Health Services, which is a division of NYC Health + Hospitals. The Department of Homeless Services also began training its shelter providers in naloxone administration with a goal of ensuring 24/7 coverage and reducing overdose deaths.
New Yorkers can get naloxone without a prescription at pharmacies throughout the city and at registered community opioid overdose prevention programs. Those seeking support for themselves or their loved ones facing substance use can access NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173, or going to nyc.gov/nycwell. Free, confidential support is available at any hour of the day in over 200 languages.
MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Stephanie Buhle, (347) 396-4177