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. The Bronx Opioid Collective utilizes a harm-reduction approach to reduce opioid-related fatalities and increase community safety. Working with a robust network of community-based partners and harm reduction agencies from different sectors, 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.
State Opioid Response (SOR) Work in Brooklyn
Through our affiliate PROMESA, Acacia Network is proud to be part of the Brooklyn Regional Network’s collective efforts to improve community access to addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery programs in Brooklyn, as we continue addressing the ongoing opioid addiction crisis in our communities.
Our footprint in Brooklyn consists of permanent affordable housing, homeless shelters for single adults and families, social services, mental health and addiction services, and supportive housing for individuals with mental health and/or addiction disorders. In addition, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic our Mobile Medical Unit in Brooklyn has conducted free COVID-19 tests, and provided outreach and services through our Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Team to address substance use in the neighborhood, including distribution of Narcan kits and PPE.
Through the NYS Opioid Response Grant administered by the NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) awarded to the Brooklyn Regional Network in 2021, we are looking forward to improving access to treatment for individuals and families through the following three (3) projects:
- Increased Access to Rapid Initiation of MAT: Through this program, our Brooklyn-based Chemical Dependency Outpatient Program, Carlos Pagan, will provide rapid access to Medication-Assisted Treatment services and telehealth.
- Integrating Peers: Through our Residential Substance Use Treatment Program for Women, El Regreso, we will hire peers to facilitate patient engagement, education, and connection to MAT services in order to support our clients’ journeys toward long-term recovery from opioid addiction.
- Familias Unidas: In partnership with the New York Foundling and AsOne, we will deliver family-based behavioral health services in Spanish to Hispanic and Latinx teens and their families, using evidence-based short-term interventions focused on preventing and treating substance use, risky sexual behavior, and other behavior problems.