The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact in diverse communities across the United States, including New York City. According to the 2019 New York State Opioid Annual Report published by the New York State (NYS) Department of Health, addiction to opioids and overdose-related deaths have continued to increase across our State and City, with a 200 percent increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths in NYS between 2010 and 2017.
In that same report, the Bronx was listed among the New York counties with the highest rates for opioid burden, which is measured according to different categories, including opioid-related hospital visits and discharges, non-fatal overdoses, and overdose deaths. Despite these alarming statistics, seeking treatment for chemical dependency and/or substance use continues to be stigmatized, and for many, it is nearly impossible to find an adequate treatment program that fits their needs. Other opioid-addicted individuals might not be ready to begin their journey toward recovery.
Aware of these complexities, Acacia Network has been actively involved in City and State-wide efforts to curb the opioid epidemic.
Bronx Opioid Collective Impact Project
Acacia Network launched the Bronx Opioid Collective Impact Project in 2018, in collaboration with the NY City Council and the Office of Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Jr., and the Third Avenue BID. Other community-based partners include Boom Health, Harlem United, St. Ann’s Corner for Harm Reduction (SACHR), New York Harm Reduction Educators (NYHRE), the Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center, Peer Network of New York, and Samaritan Daytop Village.
The Bronx Opioid Collective utilizes a harm-reduction approach to reduce opioid-related fatalities and increase community safety. Along with its partners, Acacia Network conducts Outreach Events in the Bronx to provide critical services, including the distribution of essential kits and lunches, free Narcan overdose prevention training, syringe exchanges, referrals to social services and health programs, among other resources.
Every year, the Bronx Opioid Collective hosts an annual Bronx Opioid Community Summit to convene leading healthcare service providers in order to discuss outcomes, progress, and highlights, and to establish best practices and outline steps.
Outcomes: Year 2 (2019/2020):
- The Bronx Opioid Collective’s Outreach events during fiscal year 2019-2020 generated over 130,000 interactions;
- Approximately 74,000 syringes were distributed during outreach events. Meanwhile, close to 12,000 used syringes were picked up;
- More than 9,500 meals were distributed;
- Close to 600 Narcan training sessions were provided;
- Close to 32,000 Harm Reduction Items and Accessories distributed, including Safe Injection Accessories, Fentanyl Kits, Safe Smoking Pipes, Sniff Kits, Wound Kits, and Survival Bags.