Health Department Announces Funding for Substance Use Prevention Program for At-Risk Youth in Staten Island

South Shore SafeTY.net provides support for youth ages 16 to 24 who are at risk of substance use disorder

July 26, 2018 — The Health Department today announced $300,000 in funding towards a Staten Island program for youth at risk of, or in the early stages of, substance use disorder. The program, called South Shore SafeTY.net, provides support for youth ages 16 to 24. Once enrolled, participants work with a life coach or peer advocate to develop skills that promote self-sufficiency, self-reliance and personal growth. The program offers referrals to substance use treatment, mental health care, career counseling, and guidance about education and employment. It also provides participants the opportunity to socialize with each other and discover new interests. South Shore SafeTY.net currently serves 25 youth and has a capacity to serve up to 60 youth each year. The services are provided by the Staten Island Mental Health Society and funded through an agreement with Richmond University Medical Center. The funding for South Shore SafeTY.net is a part of HealingNYC, the City’s comprehensive plan to reduce opioid overdose deaths and save as many as 400 lives by 2022.

“South Shore SafeTY.net helps youth build the skills they need to navigate life’s challenges and develop healthy behaviors. By mobilizing peer-advocates, this program creates a support system that can help those managing substance use disorders. This type of nurturing community is instrumental in keeping our youth resilient,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “This is an investment in the future of Staten Island youth, so we can continue to change the course of the opioid epidemic.”

“We know that many youth in early stages of substance use fall between the cracks,” said Fern Aaron Zagor, President and CEO of Staten Island Mental Health Society, Inc. “They are beyond the reach of traditional prevention programs, but are not yet addicted and may not need treatment. We have to catch them early if we hope to change their trajectory and prevent addiction. We are extremely grateful to Councilman Borelli and the HealingNYC initiative for supporting SafeTY.net. They recognize that a community based early intervention model providing intensive case management with goals clearly identified and driven by the youth’s vision for the future can make all the difference. This is what SafeTY.net can do.”

“The comprehensive counseling and skill development services offered by South Shore SafeTY.net are a useful tool against substance use,” said Council Member Joseph Borelli. “Expanding the reach of effective early intervention service providers is critical in the fight against opioid addiction and the Staten Island Mental Health Society has been a great partner for many years. We're glad to have more services on the south shore.”

“It’s not a ‘them’ problem, it’s an ‘us’ problem. It’s not an ‘over there’ crisis, it’s a ‘here’ crisis. It’s not a ‘bad family’ issue, it’s an ‘any family’ issue,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “We need to tackle the opioid issue from several fronts, and education and early intervention are key to stemming the tide of this crisis. I commend the Administration for taking this step to help us do everything we can to push back against this epidemic.”

In 2017, 101 Staten Island residents died of a drug overdose, 18 fewer than in 2016. The rate of overdose death among Staten Island residents decreased by 16 percent from 2016 to 2017, from 32.5 to 27.3 per 100,000 residents, respectively. Staten Island residents between the ages of 15 and 34 had a high rate of overdose death in 2017, 26.7 per 100,000 residents. Nearly all (91 percent) drug overdose deaths among Staten Island residents involved an opioid in 2017.

In New York City, overdose deaths have increased for seven consecutive years. The number of drug overdoses remains at epidemic levels as illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a potent opioid, continues to be present in the drug supply. Fentanyl has been found in heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and ketamine, as well as in benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers acquired from non-pharmaceutical sources.

Opioid overdose deaths are preventable. Naloxone is available free-of-charge to all New Yorkers from registered Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs. The Health Department also offers regular naloxone trainings at its main office in Queens to teach New Yorkers to recognize the signs of an overdose and respond by calling 911 and administering naloxone. The trainings are free, and all participants are offered a free naloxone kit.

Individuals seeking support or treatment for substance use issues for themselves or their loved ones can contact 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.

If you witness an overdose, call 911 immediately.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Stephanie Buhle: (347) 396-4177,
PressOffice@health.nyc.gov